On August 6, 1991, the World Wide Web became commercially available – that was only 11,074 days ago!
In the very beginning, the Internet was a “read-only” experience, basically a means of delivering print content on a computer.
With a web URL (uniform resource locator) in hand, or using a web browser such as Netscape (Google didn’t exist at the time), the web provided exposure and removed geographical restrictions which, until then, could only be fulfilled by receiving physical paper in person, sent by snail mail, courier or revolutionary fax machines. “Search, find and read” sums up the experience. Progress was measured by counting the number of website users and the number of web pages read.
Today we’re in the Web 2.0 era and have been since 1999. We have moved from a “read-only” experience, to a “read-write” experience, with dynamic content that is responsive to user input.
“What Google did in Web 1.0 was take a feature, which was search, and built an entire business around that utility. In Web 2.0 Twitter took a feature, which is sharing, and built a utility that allowed people to do that on a massive scale.” (Peter Fenton, Venture Capitalist)
Web 2.0 is often referred to as “participatory” or “social”, defined by a higher level of information sharing and interconnectedness among users. Today, users can actively participate in the experience rather than just acting as passive viewers … though there is an all too well-known cost for doing so:
“By putting the means of production into the hands of the masses but withholding from those same masses any ownership over the product of their work, Web 2.0 provides an incredibly efficient mechanism to harvest the economic value of free labor provided by the very, very many and concentrate it into the hands of the very, very few.” (Nicholas G. Carr, Bad Boy technology author and Pulitzer Prize nominee. Check out his blog: https://www.roughtype.com/ )
5.4 billion Google searches are performed every day. In 1999, 1 year after its launch, Google earned $220,000. In its most recently reported fiscal year, Google’s revenue was $181.69 billion, 80% of which it earned from advertising. Twitter has 206 million daily active users. In 2020, it reported revenue of $3.72 billion
Now pretty much everything we do online can be tracked and analyzed, providing better insights so that advertisers can more effectively target consumers. With so much data on hand, algorithms can predict what consumers will do before they actually do it. On top of this, knowing who a consumer is and what he/she likes or dislikes provides an opportunity to customize an online experience, resulting in more frequent use and longer use. Both provide opportunities for corporate monetization.
“The algorithms that orchestrate our ads are starting to orchestrate our lives.” (Eli Pariser, the man who coined the term “filter bubble”, which describes how information about a user affects his/her internet experience)
We’re not yet there … but Web 3.0 is poised to take the next logical step in the evolution of the World Wide Web. After all, it has been more than 20 years since Web 2.0 became a thing.
Web 1.0 was “read-only”, Web 2.0 was “read and write”, what will Web 3.0 be?
Some say it will be “read, write and execute”, others say it will be “read, write and trust”. I’m hoping that it will be a blend of both. We want to be able to do things with less effort and improved results – that covers “execute”. Although we’ve jumped like lemurs onto the web platforms of today’s gazillionaires, we are increasingly uncomfortable with the superpowers they have assumed – will “trust” come from a reduction of their powers?
No matter what the outcome, I see AI as a principal determinant of our next quantum leap, and fully expect the paradigm shift to come from a change that involves moving from making decisions (or predicting them) to making decisions about decisions (known as “micro-decisions”) -- a fine-tuning of analytics like we’ve never seen before. And I believe that this fine-tuning will only be possible when everything is shared across all platforms, not constrained within the walls of a few corporate giants.
In 1996, John Perry Barlow, a cyberlibertarian, wrote “A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace” – it contained flaws, but it was well-intentioned, passionate, and created a flurry of important discussion. I look forward to following upcoming discussions that will inform the development of Web 3.0.
We’re still a long way off, but it has been predicted that the next phase will see computing and the human brain interface freely. We’ve already seen this in science fiction, so we know it will happen. It’s just a matter of time.
Now challenge yourself and your friends to our Web 3.0 Quiz, by downloading Quizefy from the app store if you haven’t already done so, then see how much you know and Strut Your Smart. Our Web 3.0 Quiz is only available today, then it disappears. We’ll be back again every Tuesday with a special blog posted at www.quizefy.com, along with a new trivia quiz on the same topic as the blog. Don’t forget to follow Quizefy on social media, so we can remind you of the upcoming blog and quiz content.