Web 1.0, the first generation of the Internet created in the 1990s, is a static Internet, and its main application is network media. Various online media hire a large number of editors to publish content with images and text on web pages. Readers visit websites and browse digital content, but they can only read but not write and cannot participate in content creation. The entire Web 1.0 media is the electronic version of traditional newspapers and magazines.
Let us consider the following four questions about digital content:
Who created it?
Who owns it?
Who manages and controls them?
How is the value they create distributed?
The answer for Web 1.0 is as follows: Platforms create, own, manage, control, and distribute.
Web 2.0 emerged in the mid-2000s, the second-generation of the Internet, is an interactive Internet and its main applications are social networks and e-commerce. At this stage, the platform only provides an infrastructure. Very little content is created by it, most of the content is created by users. However, the platform has quietly expanded its rights by relying on its control over the technical infrastructure and bloodlessly appropriating users’ data. On the Web 2.0 platform, ownership of the digital content created by users belongs to the platform, and control also belongs to the platform. The platform can decide to edit, change, delete, and block the user’s content, and even delete the user’s account and expel the user from their social network. The Internet. The platform can also decide how to distribute the value created by this digital content. The value of the huge data footprint that users create when using the Internet is also held by the platform for free.
Therefore, the answer for Web 2.0 is: Users create, platforms own, control, and distribute.
Comparing Web 1.0 and 2.0, it is not difficult to see that Web 1.0, while not user-friendly and limiting the production of digital content and data to a small area, is in principle consistent with the basic market economy of “who creates, who owns, and who profits.” From the perspective of digital content or data ownership and value distribution, Web 2.0 is distorted and unreasonable. The basic rights of creators are deprived and the value to users is arbitrarily determined, which is actually a system of digital slavery.
This explains why it is only the era of Web 2.0 that has produced a number of supergiants because these platforms actually account for a large part of the value produced and created for free by tens or even hundreds of millions of users.
Web 3.0 was coined by Ethereum co-founder Gavin Wood in 2014. In 2020 and 2021, the idea of Web3 gained popularity. Particular interest spiked towards the end of 2021, largely due to interest from cryptocurrency enthusiasts and investments from high-profile technologists and companies.
The answer for Web 3.0 will be: Users create, own and control, the protocol distributes.
In other words: In Web 3.0, ownership and control of user-created digital content clearly rests with users, and the value they create is distributed according to agreements made between users and others. In this system, digital content is no longer simply data, but digital assets, as its rights are guaranteed at the asset level. This is similar to the market economy in the digital economy, which confirms, respects, and protects personal digital property rights and exchanges value based on contracts. If the market economy significantly increases productivity and improves the economic level compared to the slave system and the feudal system, then Web 3.0 should have a similar effect on the development of the digital economy as Web 2.0.
The technical basis of Web 3.0 is the blockchain
Blockchain is actually a decentralized computer protocol that specifies how different actors can create and maintain a distributed computing infrastructure in a decentralized manner to realize the relationship between the “rights to manage the infrastructure” and the “rights to control user data.” The separation prevents a single platform from managing power over the computing infrastructure and exercising control over user data, user assets, and user identity. Blockchain is also a transparent and credible system for confirming and tracking rights. Once a right is digitized into a token on the blockchain, it can be reliably confirmed, and its circulation, transactions, transformations, and deformations can be tracked throughout the process, the entire process.
Blockchain is also a platform for creating protocols and executing them automatically. Smart contracts are a concentrated expression of this capability. They allow the agreement to distribute rights and value to be executed efficiently, accurately, and credibly without relying on a trusted third party, and the entire process can be audited. Therefore, blockchain is indispensable infrastructure for Web 3.0, but it is only a means. Its purpose is to realize the confirmation and protection of the rights and interests of users’ digital assets.
This also confirms the importance of the token. Because even on the blockchain, only tokens can be validated and managed, while general data does not yet receive the same treatment. If users want their digital rights to be validated and protected, they must be tokenized; there is no other way. Effective rights management is not possible at the raw data level. Therefore, the various attempts to validate raw data, recommend trading rules and create trading markets, while not futile, are far from reaching the level of digital assets, and the costs must be extremely high.
The vast majority of tokens in Web 3.0 will be NFTs. We are currently in a phase of transition from the second-generation Internet to the third-generation Internet, Web 3.0. This process will take about 10-15 years, and the result will be a complete transformation of the Internet and the global digital economy.
Meta universe is an important application of the Web 3.0 social network. In the Web 3.0 era, there will be a number of huge global platforms, as well as a hundred times more entrepreneurial heroes and a thousand times more rich digital assets. But we may not see the social networking empires and digital oligarchs we see today, at least we hope so in this form.
The digital economy that does not integrate into this movement will be completely left behind within 15 years, and its scale and influence will become insignificant in the global digital economy going forward.