How did we get from Tim Berners-Lee to Metamask? What trials and tribulations did we face
It’s funny to remember the early-to-mid 00s. After the internet bubble, everyone and their dog were convinced that the internet was just an ‘obsession for nerds’ with no actual long-term application. Given that nowadays even our Grandparents have Facebook (Now Meta), I think it’s safe to say they were wrong. But how did we get to where we are now?
Web 1.0: The ‘Internet’
Back in 1989, Tim Berners-Lee, also known as TimBL, suggested, created, and completed the first successful communication between a Hypertext Transfer Protocol client (or
HTTP client) and a server via this new “information management system.”
It was here that the internet, or Web 1.0, was born.
So, what was the purpose of Web 1.0?
Briefly put, its purpose was to share information quickly and efficiently.
Back in the early ’90s, the “internet” wasn’t populated quite the same way it is today and most of its users fell into the categories of Research Institutions, such as Universities, or government bodies, like the Military.
The internet was initially built in response to a problem TimBL faced while working at CERN. He noticed his colleagues would struggle to transfer data from one computer to another and envisioned a way to host this data so that all other computers could read it.
From this, he went on to create the Internet Protocol, or IP, that allows computers to be individually identified for addressing. Next came the Transmission Control Protocol, or TCP, which controlled how the information moved between one address and another.
Initially, this project satisfied the criteria of sharing information between research institutions and government bodies. This first iteration of the internet was read-only, meaning you could not edit, amend, or adapt anything viewed “online.” It took time to invent the infrastructure to change this.
Web 2.0: The Social Web
We suddenly had interactive pages with beautiful layouts and design and options to sign up and create communities. Web 2.0 turned a once academic read-only forum board into the all-encompassing, interconnected world-wide-web that you see today.
During web 2.0, all the websites you might use today: Google, Facebook, YouTube, Reddit, etc were created. So, what made web 2.0 different from web 1.0?
The short answer: Read-and-write functionality, rather than the read-only proposition of Web 1.0.
Many novel innovations were created from this subtle change, pushing the internet to become an interactive and enticing place to visit. So, if web 2.0 gave us all the platforms and products we use today, what is Web3, and why is it needed? Unfortunately, as the internet age progressed, it became clear that not all companies were entirely trustworthy. From this, the idea of the decentralised web, or Web 3.0, was born.
Web3: The Decentralised Web
In its most basic essence, the decentralised web, or web3 aims to remove barriers to entry while creating automated trust on the internet without the need for a centralised body, such as a large company or government, to regulate it.
You may be wondering what technological breakthrough happened to allow this to occur? The answer is Smart Contract technology:. Apps and websites can now be programmed to self-execute commands once specific criteria have been met.
This may sound a little abstract, but a smart contract simply means a pre-agreed, self-executing, and immutable code set up between individuals or businesses, which acts as the intermediary between them during exchanges.
Web3 users will benefit in four major ways:
The primary benefit of blockchain technologies, and Web3, is that you can inspect the code behind most platforms you visit. You no longer need to ask yourself if a particular social media website tracks you or sells your data. You can now check and verify for yourself.
2. Fewer Intermediaries
Web3 aims to connect people without the need for centralised bodies in between. Of course, not all intermediaries can be removed, but many could be cut as new marketspaces begin to form.
Under Web3, a platform could be formed that allows buyers and sellers to communicate directly without taking fees in between. Imagine Amazon or eBay, but without Amazon or eBay running it and taking a cut. Additionally, even if the companies in between are well-intentioned, such as Patreon or GoFundMe, they inevitably still take a fee for their service and could be replaced under this new model.
Through Web3 you can pay someone directly over the internet with their public wallet address and give them that extra percentage, which is often siphoned away in traditional models. Perhaps this isn’t as important for that YouTuber you support, though it might make the difference for those who rely on international remittances to survive.
For example, in El Salvador, roughly a quarter of their entire GDP is made from international remittances. From that $6 billion in remittances annually, about $400 million is taken in transfer fees by companies like MoneyGram and Western Union, which could soon be replaced by Web3 products that give those additional dollars to those who need them most.
If not compelling enough already, these crypto payments often arrive far quicker than traditional cross-country payments, suggesting we could see a radical shake-up in how we transfer money internationally following Web3’s implementation.
3. Privacy and Data Ownership
Data hacks are becoming more frequent, and at institutions you would expect would look after your data better. The worst part is, that sometimes a company you didn’t realise even had your data gets hacked because of third-party cookies. Thanks to the cryptography and opt-in setup of Web3, you are finally in control of your data, and it is up to you to decide where it gets shared.
In Web3, you will likely have just one address used across multiple platforms, but you will be required to authorise permission to access your data manually. Consequently, in Web3, we might even find advertisers or brands who are willing to purchase your data directly from you, which will radically change the current dynamic.
4. Creator Compensation Revolution
Imagine you make a particularly insightful social media post on a Web3 website. Now, nothing is stopping fans from tipping you directly. More excitingly, we may also see revenue shares being set up from websites themselves, meaning you get a cut of whatever money the platform makes from your work.
This will fundamentally change our relationship with the internet, as it is user content that makes the internet go round, but creators are rarely credited or paid appropriately for it.
Ultimately, this is this kind of utility that Web3 looks to bring – A decentralised web where everyone is an equal regardless of geographical location, where creators get paid for their work, and a web that further progresses the ideals core to the blockchain revolution – notably privacy, transparency, security, and inclusivity.
You may not have noticed if you’ve not been paying attention, but we’re already beginning to see this integration occur. Anyone can install a Metamask wallet on Google Chrome, top-up some crypto, and then send that crypto anywhere – without exception, all for the cost of a single network transfer fee. That’s it.
You no longer need to be a “tech bro” to set this up, either. Simply open your web browser, install a Web3 wallet, and voila. You can now send money to any other web3 almost instantly and often for a fraction of the cost you’d typically pay for this service.
Web3 is the next progression of the internet. It is the decentralised web with no corporation at the top, which allows for more privacy, better inclusivity, and creates automatic trust for individuals and corporations alike through novel technologies.
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Disclaimer: The information on this website is purely for information. Elbaite is not a financial adviser, and nothing stated here is to be taken as financial advice. You should seek independent legal, financial, taxation or other advice relevant to your financial situation before making any investment decisions.
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