It's been a little over a decade since Web 2.0 came onto the scene, and while it's been a transformative force, there's no denying that it's beginning to show its age.
Where once we used the web primarily for simple tasks like reading the news or checking our email, we now use it for much more complex activities. We shop online, stream movies and TV shows, work remotely, and stay connected with our friends and family no matter where they are in the world.
Step forward Web3
Web3 is sometimes referred to as the "semantic web," "the intelligent web," or "the next generation web." It's an umbrella term that refers to a vision for the future of the internet that includes things like natural language processing, machine learning, linked data, and of course blockchain technology.
In other words, it's about making the internet more intelligent, intuitive, inclusive and democratic, so that we can interact with it in more natural ways.
Decentralisation is the most discussed topic when it comes to the use cases of Web3 and NFTs. Decentralised systems are those that are not centrally controlled by any one party, but rather are distributed across a network. This has a number of advantages, chief among them being that decentralised systems are more resilient to attacks and censorship. When it comes to data ownership, decentralisation means that users are in control of their own data. They can choose who to share it with, and they can be confident that their data will not be misused or stolen.
When it comes to art, decentralisation provides a new level of freedom for artists. They can create and distribute their work without having to worry about censorship or copyright infringement. In short, decentralisation is set to have a profound impact on the way we live, work, and play.
But these (well covered) points are not all that Web3 is developing for society. Features like location-based services, Augmented Reality, and the Internet of Things are going to become increasingly important in the years to come. And while some might say that these are just gimmicks, there's no denying that they have the potential to change the way we live and work for the better.
Another significant change that Web3 will bring about is a shift from human-centred design to machine-centred design. Rather than designing websites and applications for humans to use, we will increasingly be designing them for machines to use.
For example, imagine you're planning a trip to Paris, and you want to find out what time you should book your flight so that you can get the best deal. In the past, you would have had to go online and manually search for flights using a variety of different search engines and websites. But with Web3 technology, you will simply be able to ask your assistant (be it Siri, Alexa, or Google Home) for help with this task. The assistant will then scour all available flight data to find the best option for you based on your preferences and budget - all without you having to lift a finger!
These real-world examples of Web3 technology in use, will likely become token gated over time. I believe they are the real use case examples that will continue to onboard people to learn about, participate and possibly develop the space further – and we need more of them!
The middle ground…
Web2.5 then, is the notion of using all the benefits of Web3 but promoting them via Web2 channels and solving Web2 issues. Examples include:
Federated Social Networks: are perhaps the most visible changes introduced by Web2.5. These networks, such as Mastodon and Diaspora, allow users to self-host their data and connect with other users on the network without giving up control of their data to a central authority. This is a marked departure from services like Facebook and Twitter, which has come to dominate the social media landscape since the early 2010s.
The development of Distributed Ledger Technologies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. These protocols provided a way for users to transact with each other without needing to go through a central third party such as a bank or government. This breakthrough will prove essential in the development of decentralized applications (dApps).
Decentralised Storage Solutions allowing users to store data in a distributed manner so that no single entity has control over it. This contrasts with traditional storage solutions such as Dropbox or Google Drive, which rely on central servers that are vulnerable to hacking or censorship.
Pushing for progress.
When a number of these Web2.5 examples are combined and integrated with the modern brand building techniques that NFT projects are promoting, the result could become very exciting.
This new tech allows businesses to create new brands that will build technology and experiences that significantly increase onboarding into Web3 - Focusing on NFT’s, Web3 infrastructure & IP creation. These businesses are redefining ways of working, defining culture and generating revenue streams.
Web2.5 is an important steppingstone on the journey towards decentralisation because it is pathing the way for many of the key technologies that we can apply to life today. Whilst it does not achieve true decentralization, it lays the groundwork for what will come next.