Web 3.0 - is the end of the participatory web coming?

In the beginning, there was a collection of mostly static websites that only served to provide information. But after the social and mobile web, now comes the semantic web, also called Web 3.0. The latest version of the internet focuses on decentralisation and absolute transparency. Blockchain technology plays an important role in the development of Web 3.0. "It is the basic concept for Web 3.0," says digitalisation expert Professor Markus Haid in an interview with //next.

Digitisation expert Professor Markus Haid | (c) Prof. M. Haid

After Web 2.0 comes - logically: Web 3.0. While the second version of the World Wide Web has been focusing on the interaction of users in terms of communication and information since the 1990s and made the applications mobile-ready, the latest version focuses on decentralisation. Instead of relying on large social media platforms and globally operating e-commerce platforms as intermediaries between the actors, the internet is to be organised in a decentralised manner in future. Blockchain technology plays an important role in the development of Web 3.0. "It is the basic concept for Web 3.0," says digitalisation expert Professor Markus Haid in an interview. 

2.0 or 3.0 - the big difference

In Web 2.0, all information from the areas of e-commerce, search engines, social media, communication or data storage converge on a limited number of servers. These are controlled by a few companies with a global presence. This concentration entails risks: If one of the supercomputers fails, users no longer have access to their data. And what exactly the database operators do with our information is often beyond our knowledge.

With Web 3.0, this is supposed to change: The decentralised applications and platforms also function without service providers who stand out as controllers. Instead, users and a network of independent servers and computers verify each other. The result: more transparency about the stored data, greater accessibility to the web and consequently more autonomy for each and every one of us.

Mr Haid, what role does blockchain technology play for Web 3.0?

Blockchain is widely understood as the backbone technology for Web 3.0. It contributes to the decentralisation of web platforms and service so that a central instance is no longer needed for transactions of money, property rights or information to function smoothly. 

What opportunities do you associate with Web 3.0?

With Web 3.0, we have the opportunity to catch up on what we did not turn into reality with Web 2.0: complete transactions in real time, regardless of the actual distance of the users. For me, this also includes, for example, the introduction of a future-proof, purely digital payment system that is not linked to the real financial markets again at the end and is oriented, for example, to the development of a currency or the price of gold. Then small, granular settlements in the cent range will also become possible. What has also been neglected with Web 2.0 is the necessary transparency about the data used - who does it belong to and how is it used? Web 3.0 can bring improvements in this point as well.

Conversely, what risks do you think Web 3.0 poses?

Decentralised does not automatically always mean better. We should already think about how to ensure that no illegal goods or information change hands on a completely decentralised platform. In the end, it will be crucial that the benefits that come with decentralisation exceed the benefits of the traditional, centrally managed offerings as we know them today.

Does Web 3.0 already have a significance for our everyday lives?

Today, Web 3.0 still plays a vanishingly small role. It has not yet reached the general internet. This is also shown by a comparison of Web 2.0 apps and Web 3.0 apps by Matteo Zago: the level of awareness and the number of users alone show that decentralised applications and platforms have hardly been able to challenge their Web 2.0 competitors so far. They still lack scalability and the corresponding performance. 

What applications of Web 3.0 do you see in the future?

For example, decentralised identity management solutions that replace the login via Google or Facebook would be conceivable. Or social networks that, unlike Facebook or Twitter, function without the powerful advertising intermediaries. Or the possibility of rewarding the content creator of an offer directly with cryptocurrencies, without large corporations keeping their commissions from it. I think that initially, an adoption of decentralised functions by centralised platforms would also be realistic, for example the integration of cryptocurrencies by Paypal, Square or Tesla. Basically, the transition from Web 2.0 to Web 3.0 is blurring. A clear demarcation will be difficult.

If you dare to look into the crystal ball: What comes after Web 3.0? What will bring the next big change to the internet and establish Web 4.0?

If you want to ride the hype wave, you would answer that VR or AR, Metaverse and Neurolink will drive the internet towards Web 4.0. Virtual worlds would emerge as meeting places for friends and colleagues. But that's too bold, I would almost say unserious bullshit bingo. What is clear is that the merging of the internet and the real world will continue in the future, for example in the form of augmented reality or virtual meeting places for remote workers. More people will also build their livelihoods online as content creators.

With the Blockchain into Web 3.0?

More on that topic: Matteo Gianpietro Zago. „Why The Web 3.0 Matter and you should know about it“

Text: Susanne Widrat

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