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What is Web3?

Tech Talk

Have you heard of this new thing, Web 3.0, also known as Web3? It's the future of the internet, they tell us. But what is Web3, and whatever happened to Web1 and Web 2? If there were such things?

We refer to the first publicly available version of the internet as Web 1.0. In this version of the internet, web pages were collections of read-only pages, and there was almost no interactivity with the page you were on. You read it, and that was it. Little efforts by major corporations and small companies or individuals put up most of the sites on Web 1.0. I "remember" Joe Boxer being the first corporation to put a website URL on a billboard, but I couldn't document it anywhere, so maybe I made it up.

Somewhere around 2003-04, the current incarnation of the Internet began showing up. Sites on the web became less about static pages to read and more about interactivity with the site. Major corporations launched massive websites, and the first Internet giants appeared in Web 2.0. Of course, small companies and individuals still run websites, but most internet traffic doesn't go to those sites. Web 2.0 even allowed companies like Facebook and Google to operate solely as websites, which wasn't possible with Web 1.0.

So what's going to be different about Web3? Web 3.0 is referred to as Web3 instead of Web 3.0 because I guess people are too busy to put in the time to add the space, the period and the 0.

Web3 promises to decentralize and democratize the internet networks instead of relying on Big Tech to keep things running. How? By bringing blockchain technology and artificial intelligence to run the internet.

Wait, isn't blockchain technology the thing used by cryptocurrency? Yes, it is. Cryptocurrencies are pretty new and arguably have been having a bad year. Blockchain tech makes cryptocurrency work, but it's useful for other things, too.

Blockchain works by keeping data in what's known as decentralized storage. Instead of data getting stored in a few server farms owned by Big Tech companies, data will stay on all servers attached to the Internet. Any data moves register in the blockchain, making it clear who did what and when with the data. Effectively, Web3 decentralizes the Internet, possibly making it available to more people as costs go down. In addition, the artificial intelligence part of Web3 should catch and stop abuses of the system by bots and click farms. And all of this would make it much harder for a few companies to control the Internet.

Blockchain tech has downsides, of course. For example, there wouldn't be a way to be anonymous in a fully transparent system; advertising could become a nightmare. Also, the current versions of blockchain tech are pretty slow.

Don't look for Web3 to show up soon, though. The technologies required don't exist yet. For example, none of the artificial intelligence necessary to create the advanced and self-healing networks needed to run a Web3 is even close to being up to the task. And blockchain tech will need to get a lot faster, or we'll need quantum computers to run it at transactional speeds.

Family time

After Christmas dinner, a banker's daughter tells him about her work on a blockchain network to speed up transactions.

After a long pause, he asks, "Would you like to hear my opinion on this blockchain tech you're working on?"

"Of course!"

"It's worthless."

"I know," she replies, "but let me hear it anyway."

Do you have a computer or technology question? Greg Cunningham has provided Tehachapi with on-site PC and network services since 2007. Email Greg at [email protected].