The Internet is a technology that continues to innovate and is constantly evolving.Throughout its first appearance in the 1950s, it has been changing our lives rapidly. Today, thanks to the internet and the web, we can do anything. The Covid-19 pandemic has led to the acceleration of a whole series of phenomena that have long been transforming work, school, university, services, society as a whole and the very sense of citizenship.With one click we can buy and receive any type of product in a few hours; enjoy any type of content: videos, films, television series, books, shows, and conferences.
In 2021 and in the first months of 2022, there was much talk of web 3 or web 3.0 because, being in its current declination and definition based on the blockchain, it was driven by the growing diffusion and success of cryptocurrencies and NFT, both based right on the blockchain. A spread is so rapid that it has prompted various analysts, activists, entrepreneurs and investors to suggest that the third generation of the web, based on the blockchain, is already here.
In the current vision, web 3.0 is characterized by decentralization as a guiding philosophy and by blockchain as an enabling technology. Here's how we got there, the differences between Tim Berners Lee's semantic web and the opportunities of a new distributed economy.
However, we need to do some history, to understand how we get to talk about web 3.0 in this context and to clear the field of possible confusion.
Web 1.0: a decentralized and static web
As mentioned, the introduction of the web is mainly due to a person, the physicist Tim Berners-Lee at the time at CERN in Geneva, who, in the early 90s, introduced a semi-structured language called HTML (literally HyperText Markup Language) used to make multimedia contents available organized in pages, link together through “hyperlinks”.
The first web page in history was published on August 6, 1991, by Tim-Berners-Lee and is still accessible today. Its appearance can undoubtedly suggest what the web was in that truly pioneering era.
In that version of the web, the roles remained strictly predefined: on the one hand those who published content through the pages of their website and on the other hand those who used them. Even then, newsgroups and chats existed, but they were nevertheless more exceptions for niches of advanced users: for most users, use was essentially passive, limited to reading content created by others.
Web 2.0: democratization and centralization
In the early 2000s, everything changed. Wikipedia was born in 2001, it wasn’t comparable to anything ever created before. An open encyclopaediain which to convey collective intelligence. At the same time, technological evolution widens the transmission band, speeds up the transmission of large amounts of data, stabilizes it, decreasing latency and also allowing the diffusion of streaming content.
Facebook was born in 2004. From there everything changes. The spread rate is impressive, reaching billions of registered and active users.Even if, it is in decline today - it has obviously slowed growth and lost attractiveness especially for young people - it remains the prototype of the social network.
Web 3.0 Semantic web
In Tim Berners-Lee's vision, the semantic web aims to evolve the network into a gigantic database, based on ontological languages such as OWL that allows machines to feel and act as human beings, understanding the cognitive context in which they find themselves having to do analysis, make decisions, carry out tasks.But what is web 3.0 exactly? In its current version, web 3.0 was created to take a step further than the current web, decentralizing the network and favouring the re-appropriation by individual users of their data, also allowing them to monetize its value.
With cryptocurrencies, it is in fact possible to carry out a decentralized exchange of value, which does not pass-through banks or other regulatory bodies. With the token mechanism, on which NFTs are based for example, which means Non-Fungible-Token, it is also possible to trace the ownership of any digital object.
As is evident, therefore, web 3.0, blockchain and cryptocurrencies become inextricably linked.
The economic impact of the internet may not be an overwhelming one, but still, it can be significant. Aside from cryptocurrencies, NFTs and blockchain, with the Internet’s development, it will become faster and more secure. So,with the faster internet, many industries, and companies in the economy can save money which will lead to quick productivity growth. Because of this rapid production growth, the prices will be lower hence the consumers also have an advantage. The lower the wages, the higher the standard of living.
However, it should be noted that the web is going through a phase of instability and transition that will in any case lead to a new equilibrium. In which direction it is difficult to say today. So, it is also difficult to see its impact on the economy as well.