The following is a guest post from Anndy Lian.
The more I speak and advise on crypto and blockchain matters, the more I think there is a gap between what decentralization is and reality. I do not doubt the feasibility of decentralization; I am just not sure if the current version of Web3 is decentralized enough. Maybe we are what everyone is saying, “we are merely in Web 2.5.”
WWW stands for World Wide Web. It is a system of interconnected documents and other resources linked by hyperlinks and URLs. The World Wide Web is a way to access information over the internet; it is not the internet itself.
It was created by Sir Tim Berners-Lee in 1989 while working at CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research) in Switzerland. The World Wide Web is built on the internet, allowing users to access and share information through various platforms, such as web browsers, mobile apps, and other software.
It is based on HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) and HTML (Hypertext Markup Language), which allows for creating documents containing text, images, videos, and other multimedia content. The World Wide Web is constantly evolving, and new technologies are being developed to improve user experience, security, and accessibility.
Web 1.0 refers to the first generation of the World Wide Web, primarily focused on providing static, read-only content to users. This phase of the web began in the 1990s and lasted until around the early 2000s.
Web 1.0 websites were typically simple, text-based pages with limited graphics and few interactive features. Individuals or organizations created and maintained them and were primarily used for sharing information, such as personal profiles, news articles, and research papers. Navigation was often limited to simple text links, and no search engines could help users find the information they needed.
Web 1.0 was characterized by its lack of interactivity and user-generated content. Users were mainly passive information consumers and could not interact with the web pages, leave comments, submit forms, upload files, and so on.
Web 1.0 was also limited in terms of accessibility, as many users were still using slow internet connections and older browsers that could not handle more advanced web technologies. As a result, web pages were often simple and limited in design.
In summary, Web 1.0 was the first phase of the World Wide Web. It was a time when the internet was still young, and the web was mainly used to share information, but with limited interactivity and user-generated content.
Web 2.0 refers to the second generation of the World Wide Web, which emerged in the early 2000s. It is characterized by the emergence of user-generated content, social media, and the ability for users to interact and collaborate online.
Web 2.0 technologies include social networking sites, blogs, wikis, and video-sharing sites, which allow users to create and share their content, rather than simply consuming content created by others. These technologies also allow for greater collaboration and communication among users, increased accessibility, and the ability to share and access information from various devices.
Web 2.0 sites are more dynamic and interactive than their Web 1.0 counterparts. They include features such as comments, ratings, and the ability to share and promote content across multiple platforms. They also use advanced technologies such as AJAX, which allows for more responsive and interactive interfaces, and rich media, such as videos and images.
Web 2.0 also brought the concept of “crowdsourcing,” which was the idea of leveraging the collective knowledge of the internet to create and improve content.
In summary, Web 2.0 is the second generation of the World Wide Web, it emerged in the early 2000s, and it’s characterized by the emergence of user-generated content, social media and the ability for users to interact and collaborate online. Web 2.0 sites are more dynamic, interactive, and collaborative than their Web 1.0 counterparts.
Web3, also known as Web 3.0, is the next evolution of the World Wide Web, characterized by the use of decentralized technologies, such as blockchain and smart contracts, to enable new forms of online interaction and commerce.
Unlike the current web, which is primarily controlled by centralized entities such as corporations and governments, the vision for web3 is to create a decentralized, open, and transparent network where users have more control over their data and online interactions. This includes using decentralized apps (dApps) and interacting with decentralized finance (DeFi) platforms, among other things.
Web4 is not a widely used term nor a consensus definition, so it may refer to different things depending on the context. However, some people use the term “Web4” to refer to the next generation of the World Wide Web, which would be even more decentralized and more focused on artificial intelligence, the semantic web, and the internet of things, among other things.
It would be characterized by more dynamic, autonomous, and interconnected systems that can learn from data, communicate with each other and adapt to changing environments. This would allow for more dynamic and adaptable systems that can learn from data and improve over time.
Some of the advantages of a more decentralized web include the following:
- Greater security and privacy, as users have more control over their data and online interactions
- More open and transparent systems, as there is no central point of control or failure
- Greater resilience and robustness, as the network can continue to function even if parts of it fail
- More innovation and competition, as there are fewer barriers to entry for new players
Web4 is seen as the next evolution of the World Wide Web, building upon the decentralized technologies of Web3. In Web4, the user experience is streamlined and frictionless, with the underlying technical details abstracted away. This means that users won’t need to worry about the specific blockchain being used, the intricacies of ZK-Rollups, or setting the correct gas limit for transactions. The gas wars and transaction fees of the current web3 will be a thing of the past.
Moreover, Web4 has the potential to create a circular crypto-economy that transcends physical and digital boundaries, making the need for fiat on and off ramps obsolete. This would be a significant disruption in the current financial system.
There are other interpretations of what Web4 could be, such as the “symbiotic web,” which refers to a symbiotic relationship between humans and machines, possibly even utilizing direct brain-machine interfaces.
Overall, the transition from Web1 to Web2, and now from Web3 to Web4, is similar in that it is a gradual process that opens new doors and invites more people to participate. While Web3 is still in its early stages and considered experimental, Web4 is expected to be more accessible and user-friendly, making it more widely adopted by the general public.
Where are the opportunities?
Web 4.0 offers a wealth of possibilities for companies and individuals. The symbiotic web will create more personalized experiences, allowing businesses to understand their customers better and provide tailored content.
AI-powered automation will improve efficiency, speed up time to market, and lower costs, giving businesses a competitive edge and better customer service.
The combination of hardware, software, and data will enable the development of new products and services, such as connected devices interacting with users and gathering data for personalization.
Web 4.0 also creates new revenue streams using data collected, like targeted advertising or subscription services.
Additionally, VR and AR applications will allow for new ways for businesses to engage with customers, for example, creating an AR application that allows customers to interact with products in a 3D space.
I will elaborate on this further below.
In summary, what do I see in Web4?
1) Industry 4.0 full automation
Industry 4.0 full automation uses advanced technologies such as IoT, AI, robotics, and digital twins to automate industrial processes fully. This results in increased efficiency, reduced costs, and improved product quality, leading to a fully autonomous and connected smart factory. The concept of Industry 4.0 is focused on creating a highly automated and digitized production environment. To be fully autonomous, web4 adds a layer of trust.
2) Decentralised sustainable metaverse + AR + VR
Combining a decentralized sustainable metaverse, AR, VR, and Web4 technologies creates a new dimension of the internet where users can experience a fully immersive and interactive virtual world. The decentralized aspect ensures that users have control over their data, and the virtual world operates sustainably.
AR and VR technologies enhance the experience by allowing users to interact with the virtual world more realistically and engagingly. Web4, also known as the Semantic Web, provides a decentralized and intelligent web infrastructure, enabling the metaverse to function seamlessly and intelligently. Together, these technologies create a new and exciting virtual experience accessible to many users.
3) AI making steps into the decentralized realm
AI is making steps into the decentralized realm with Web4 by enabling the creation of decentralized AI systems that operate on a peer-to-peer network. This combination of AI and Web4 technology allows for the creation of decentralized and autonomous systems that can perform complex tasks without a central authority.
4) Real decentralized apps and economies
This allows for creation of new business models and economic opportunities where transactions are secure, transparent, and tamper-proof. With Web4, dApps can be built and deployed on a decentralized network, providing users with greater control over their data and the ability to interact with the dApp in a secure and decentralized manner. This integration of Web4 in the decentralized app and economy development has the potential to create new and exciting opportunities for businesses and consumers alike.
5) Real power back to the users
This was briefly mentioned above. Web4 technology aims to give real power back to users by creating a decentralized and secure network where users have control over their data. With Web4, applications can be built and deployed on a decentralized network, allowing users to interact with the application in a secure and decentralized manner. This eliminates the need for a central authority, giving users greater control and autonomy over their data and interactions.
Additionally, the decentralized aspect of Web4 enhances the security and privacy of user data, reducing the risk of data breaches and providing users with greater control over their personal information. By giving power back to users, Web4 has the potential to revolutionize the way we interact with technology and the internet.
Web5 and Jack
In 2022, Jack Dorsey, the former CEO of Twitter, emerged as a leading figure in the development of Web5. He shared his vision for the next generation of the internet at the Consensus crypto and blockchain conference. Dorsey’s team at TBD, the Bitcoin-focused division of his fintech company Block (formerly known as Square), supports him in this endeavor.
According to Dorsey, Web5 is a solution to his issues with Web3, particularly his belief that it will never fully achieve decentralization.
“You don’t own ‘Web3.’ The [venture capitalists] and their [limited partners] do,” Dorsey said in a tweet, referring to the billions being poured into Web3. “It will never escape their incentives. It’s ultimately a centralized entity with a different label.”
“Know what you’re getting into,” he warned.
I do agree with Jack on this. The current practitioners often say that we are still in web2.5 is the same. It is not because we are not ready. We did not start this whole web3 era in the right foot and with the right decentralization model.
Yes, it’s important to note that true decentralization is a core principle of a decentralized economy. This means that no central authority or intermediary is controlling or managing the network or its transactions. I have repeated this many times in my article. Instead, power and control is distributed among the network’s participants, and decisions are made through consensus mechanisms such as voting or proof of work.
Decentralization ensures that the network is resistant to censorship, fraud, and other malicious activities and that its users have complete control over their assets. While this is still in an ideation stage and frankly somewhat idealistic, perhaps Web4 is the chance for us to redefine decentralization, reform and improve decentralization, and revalue the true meaning behind decentralization. I will speak at the TMRW Conference in Dubai from 8-10 February 2023 on Web4. I hope to take this chance to speak to all the tech experts at the venue too.