Web 1.0, Web 2.0, Web 3.0 as explained to a 4.0-year-old

April 21, 2024

Web 1.0. Web 2.0. Web 3.0. The evolution of the World Wide Web.


Web 1.0. Web 2.0. Web 3.0. What is it, what are the main differences, and what would it mean for the future of the internet? 

First things first: You wont hear words like HTML, API, or JavaScript here. No sir. Were keeping it nice and simple. So, join me, dear reader, as I take you on a journey through the evolution of the World Wide Web.


Internet and Web - same thing, right?

Nope. People often use these two terms interchangeably, but there is actually a difference between the two. The Internet is a worldwide system of computer networks in which users at any one computer can (if they have permission) get information from any other computer. So, its basically computers connecting to each other.

The Web, on the other hand, is all the content that is shared on this network of computers. For example, www.finmeup.co.za is a web-site that can be viewed and used by people via the internet. 

Now that weve got that covered, lets zoom in on the Web. Over the past few decades, we have seen massive changes in the way that people view and interact with the Web. There have been two official iterations, with a third version looming around the corner. Lets dive in. 


What Is Web 1.0?

Web 1.0 is the first version of the World Wide Web that we all know and love today. If youre a 90s baby, youll remember the days of dialling in on your landline and paying per minute to use the internet. Encarta, Wikipedia, and other static pieces of online information were the name of the game. Consequently, Web 1.0 is also known as the read-only web, which allowed users to search for information and read it, without geographical restrictions. 

The first version of the Web consisted of a few people creating web pages for a large group of readers. These content creators were few and far between and the content was wholly owned by them. Thus, the users of the web in the early days were almost exclusively consumers, without participating or interacting with the content that they viewed.


What Is Web 2.0?

If Web 1.0 was made up of a small number of people generating content for a larger audience, then Web 2.0 is many people creating even more content for a growing audience. Web 2.0 was responsible for creating communities, collaborations, dialogue, and social media. If Web 1.0 was called the read-only Web, Web 2.0 is known as the read-and-write Web or the participative social Web. 

With Web2.0, not only did we get information from web pages, but web pages started getting information from us. As we used Facebook, YouTube, and Google searches, these companies started collecting data about us so that they can serve us better content. But not only for that reason, of course - they also make money by selling this data to advertisers. 

In Web 2.0, two people sitting next to each other can log into Facebook and see a completely different feed based on the information that the platform has acquired on each individual. Data points like age, race, sex, recently viewed content, likes, dislikes, political stance, religion, geographical location etc are all taken into account to improve the relevance of the content that is presented to us.

Whilst Web 2.0 has been a massive leap forward in the way we interact and form communities, it is also characterised as the age of targeted advertising and the lack of privacy of its users (something that is being addressed more and more). 

So, to use and benefit from the web, you have to follow the guidelines of the platform, giving companies like Facebook, Google, and Twitter an enormous amount of power over the web. This is where Web3.0 comes into play.


What Is Web 3.0?

Web 3.0 is built on a foundation of decentralization and openness. The idea is to increase the power of the user and shift it away from large, centralized platforms like Facebook, Google, or Twitter, and towards decentralized, nearly anonymous platforms. As a result, each user becomes a content owner instead of just a content user.

Furthermore, Web 3.0 will use artificial intelligence and machine learning to create a fully autonomous, intelligent internet that understands content the way we do. Basically, it will analyse and comprehend words instead of numbers like the current iteration of Web 2.0.

Lastly, Web 3.0 will potentially give users the ability to split their online identity from their real-world identity. If you want the perfect example, watch the movie Ready Player One by Steven Spielberg. This means you can view pages, download items, make purchases, and perform any other activities on the internet without them being traced to the real you. 



Web1.0 gave us the ability to read stuff on the internet. 

In Web 2.0, were not just reading anymore, were also writing. Its social, its interactive, and it features user-generated content. The problem with Web2.0 is that all of our contributions are owned by centralized platforms like YouTube and Facebook.

Web 3.0 is a whole new world. It allows us to read and write stuff on the internet, but also own our content via decentralized platforms. Major themes in Web3.0 include AI, machine learning, and anonymity. 

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