It’s sometimes helpful to frame the way things evolve into different eras. For example, we can describe the way technology affected the world at a macro level in a series of technological revolutions:
- First industrial revolution: water and steam power mechanise production.
- Second: electric power creates mass production.
- Third: electronics and information technology automate production.
- Fourth (where we are today): a fusion of technologies blurs the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres.
Framing things like this helps us conceptualise what happened and might still happen. And we can do this with how the Internet is evolving too.
- Web 1.0 refers roughly to the period from 1991 to 2004, where most sites were static pages, and the vast majority of users were consumers, not producers, of content.
- Web 2.0 is the idea of "the web as platform" and centres on user-created content uploaded to forums, social media and networking services, blogs, and wikis, among other services. It is generally considered to have begun around 2004 and continues to the current day.
- Web 3.0 is a buzzword coined back in 2014 by Ethereum co-founder Gavin Wood - the common idea being that blockchain will enable a whole new democratised architecture to build software, in which all of us really do own and control our data - with ownership, portability, openness and control. “The value superhighway” maybe?
Is it real though? No, not yet. At least not outside a lot of fledgling proof of concepts. Will it change our lives in 5 or 10 years like Google and Facebook have? Maybe.
I started thinking about this topic because of an influencer called Benedict Evans. He is smart and has an interesting perspective on technology. If you like this topic and are open to a new influencer you might think about subscribing to his Newsletter. He picks out technology changes and ideas that you don’t want to miss in all the noise and gives them context and analysis.
If you get too much email but still find Web 3.0 and blockchain interesting, then maybe listen to a single podcast of his: ‘Talking about crypto’. He discusses Web 3.0, Meta, and why Elon Musk so interested in Twitter. Much better than I ever can. Fun.