Mastering Web 3.0 While Getting Ready for 4.0 and Beyond
The Web 3.0 era, explained
In 2021, we’re living in an age of unprecedented digital maturity. The web has entered its fourth decade of existence and its third generation, so to speak. Even though the web has no official versions, a numbering system for the different decades of web development has emerged and brought along a common way of referring to its stages of progress, i.e. Web 3.0 is the era we currently find ourselves in.
Today, the size of the data available on the World Wide Web has grown exponentially, a few times over, and this trend will only continue, going forward. Half of the world is on the web already, which means there is much work to be done to bring the rest of the world online so they, too, can have unrestricted access to the wealth of information contained within it.
Characteristics and examples of Web 3.0 technology
This decade of web-related progress is referred to as the semantic web due to its ability to connect humans with machines, applications with services, all via AI and mobile devices. Virtual assistants, virtual and augmented reality, artificial intelligence, 5G ultra-fast networks, decentralised blockchains, and a new generation of consumer screens are just some of the technologies enabling the leap to forward that Web 3.0 is registering at present.
The inspiring ways of the World Wide Web
The Web, as we know it today, is an online bank, an online cinema, an online gym, an online newsroom, an online doctor’s office, an online school, an online reality, an online shop, an online library, an online chat, an online date, an online job, an online way to travel, see, and experience worlds, cultures, and people that could only be imagined previously. The Web is almighty, versatile, interesting, fun, insightful, surprising, helpful, informative, even life-changing for many of its users.
Advantages and shortcomings of the Web today
The biggest advantage of the current generation of the World Wide Web is also its biggest shortcoming, and that is the fact that everyone has a voice and can express it online. “Everyone” includes well-intended people, educators, anonymous people, politicians, people with fake identities, and many more. “Everyone” has an agenda on the web, a point-of-view, a strategy, goals to achieve. While this creates enormous opportunities, those are not all equal, and do not enjoy the same share of voice around the world.
The opportunities to express opinions, inform, challenge, and inspire co-exist with those to deceive, achieve personal gain, spread animosity, and polarize. Therefore, governments must enact policies to make it progressively more difficult for these ill-intended practices to proliferate, while encouraging fact-based information, freedom of speech, and constructive discourse on widely available web platforms. Access to publicly verifiable information is an ambitious goal that innovative web technologies like blockchain can help accomplish.
The private sector, on the other hand, needs to contribute to a better Web 4.0 in its own right, by building systems, platforms, tools, and applications which connect rather than divide, are inclusive rather than restrictive, and enable rather than hinder human and societal progress.
And finally, the Web’s users and citizens must demand a fairer, more accurate, and more positive web by holding governments and businesses accountable when they make missteps. This is the only way to ensure the next iteration of the World Wide Web is a better place for the next generations.
Beyond Web 3.0
Even though technology companies are, in many ways, still trying to improve the third generation of the systems, products and platforms that make up Web 3.0, we’re already looking at what’s ahead in the following decades, namely Web 4.0, Web 5.0, and beyond. Although there isn’t yet an established standard for the next iteration of all-things-web, we have already seen a glimpse into what the next generation could look like. Web 4.0 will offer a more natural communication pathway between humans and machines by using AI-based virtual assistants and will make the transfer of virtual information and services more seamless and intuitive.
Shaping up the next generations of the Web
It’s important to remember that how the web develops is up to all of us, as its collective shapers and improvers. Despite its existing shortcomings, the progress the web has made so far has enabled countless positive business, social, and cultural improvements that couldn’t have taken place without it. How web technologies develop in the next decades will be decided mostly by how we all want to use the web and what we expect from it.
If we want to uproot deceptive practices, fake news sources, and unreliable technologies, we must do what is necessary to build and put in place better alternatives. We must ensure we are contributing truthful and useful information and tools to the terabytes of data we already have at our fingertips – we all have a role to play in building a safer, more authentic, more intuitive, and more reliable web.
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