What is Web 3.0?? A short story

An intro to web3

Written by
Maeve Willie-Pepple
Published on
January 18, 2024
Read time
5 mins

I’m sure by now you’ve heard the buzzword “web3”. Whether you work in tech or your friend does and you want to understand what the hell they’re on about, I’m writing this article for you. I will attempt to break down what exactly web3 is for those of us that don’t want to spend precious hours googling terms, jumping from one web page to another. You’ll go on a journey into web3 by following along the story of Kai - a nerdy teenager that gets obsessed with all things Web. Hopefully, by the end of this, you can confidently(ish) impress your mates with your web3 knowledge. But before we dive into the amusement park that is web3 and all the fun rides it has to offer, we need to step into the world of web1 and web2.

Web 1.0 - often referred to as the “read-only” web or “semantic” web, was the first era of the Internet. This was the generation before the mid-2000s where websites were primarily static pages of info that people could browse but not directly interact with or contribute to. It was akin to a library - you could read web pages people created or even create your own but there was no interactive quality to it. You couldn’t leave reviews on a digital masterpiece or a piece of trash product. You couldn’t like your fave’s selfie or leave a gushing comment.

Follow the story:

Once upon a time, way back in the mid-1990s, there was a curious teenager named Kai. He had just been gifted his first computer, a bulky desktop that whirred when it started up. He was excited to explore the new digital frontier - the World Wide Web. He dialed up the internet connection through his phone line and watched as his computer connected to the internet

His first stop was a website called GeoCities - a popular Web 1.0 platform where anyone could create their own simple webpage. Kai spent hours designing his page, choosing the right colours, fonts and adding bits about his favorite music, books, and hobbies. He was proud of his creation and shared the website link with his friends via email since there was no such thing as social media back then.

His friends could visit his webpage, read all about his interests, and get inspired to create their own GeoCities pages. But, that was it. They couldn't like his posts, comment on them, or share them to their own pages. The interaction was very limited, and the web was more like a one-way street where information was displayed for people to consume but not really engage with.

One day, Kai stumbled upon a site called "Amazon.com," where he could browse through a wide array of books, CDs, and DVDs. He was amazed by the idea of shopping without leaving his home. But again, it was a one-way interaction. Kai could search for items, read descriptions, and make a purchase, but he couldn't leave a review, recommend items to his friends, or ask questions about the product directly on the site.

This was the era of Web 1.0 - a  time when the internet was a brand new phenomenon, opening up vast amounts of information to anyone with a computer and a connection. But it was just the beginning, and the web was about to evolve into something much more interactive with the arrival of Web 2.0.

So, after living in the Web 1.0 era for a while, a change started brewing around the mid-2000s. The online world was getting a facelift and an upgrade. Enter Web 2.0 – the "read-write" web. Suddenly, the internet became less like a library and more like a lively book club. Here, you could not only read the books, but you could also talk about them, write your own, and even share them with others. This was the era of social media, blogs, wikis, video sharing, and much more.

Let's take a trip back to our pal, Kai. With the inception of Web 2.0, his online life got a lot more interesting. Instead of sending emails to share his creations, he would now post them on Facebook or MySpace and get instant feedback from his friends. They weren’t just spectators anymore - they could now interact, share their own thoughts, and even contribute their own content. Amazon.com transformed too. Now, Kai could leave a review, ask questions about a product, or even recommend it to a friend - all on the site itself.

In essence, Web 2.0 turned the web into an interactive platform. It wasn't just about consuming content anymore; it was about participation, collaboration, and sharing. The internet suddenly became a two-way street, with information flowing back and forth between users and websites. Web 2.0 was all about user-generated content, empowering internet users like never before.

But while Web 2.0 seemed like the pinnacle of the internet evolution, along came a new revolutionary contender - Web 3.0. This is the "read-write-execute" web. If Web 1.0 was a library and Web 2.0 was a lively book club, then Web 3.0 is the entire city itself, full of dynamic interactions and personalised experiences. It's like having a smart assistant who knows exactly what you want, even before you ask.

By the time Web 3.0 rolled around, Kai had moved on from his chunky desktop to sleek laptops and shiny smartphones. And the internet? It moved on too, becoming smarter, more intuitive, and more connected.

Kai now has a personalised online experience tailored to his needs and preferences. He uses voice-activated assistants like Siri and Alexa to manage his daily tasks, connected home devices that adjust to his lifestyle, and AI-driven recommendation engines on sites like Amazon and Netflix that know his preferences before he does. The line between the online world and the physical world has become blurred.

In this Web 3.0 world, the internet isn't just about browsing websites or interacting with content anymore. It's about the seamless integration of digital and physical realities, a hyperconnected world where data, people, and devices interact in complex and intelligent ways. It's like the entire city is built for him, constantly adapting and responding to his needs.

Web 3.0 is also about decentralisation. Consider cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Ethereum that exist on the blockchain, a key technology of the Web 3.0 era. These cryptos have enabled peer-to-peer transactions without the need for a centralised authority like a bank. Suddenly, the power has shifted from central entities to the people (more on this in another article).

To top it off, imagine entering a virtual reality world, purchasing digital real estate, and interacting with other people's avatars. In the era of Web 3.0, virtual reality, augmented reality, and other such technologies are making their way into our everyday lives.

You’ve finally arrived with Kai at the brink of Web 3.0 - a world where the internet isn't just a tool, but an extension of our reality.

Link to web3 quiz

Maeve Willie-Pepple

I write about design, experiences and web 3.0. Stay in touch.