The internet, like people, can be divided into generations. Web 2.0 (or Web2) is the most commonly used internet and is often referred to as “the social web.”
It’s an environment that prioritizes user-generated content over content posted by others, and it’s “dominated by companies that provide services in exchange for your personal data” – companies like Facebook and Twitter, according to one expert.
After a turbulent U.S. presidency and a pandemic, the world saw how easily Web2 technology could be manipulated – bots, a lack of granular moderation on social media, and anonymity on social media platforms all played a role.
Extremists and foreign actors used the Web2 applications, namely social media and messaging apps, to spread misinformation and disinformation and to contribute to unprecedented political polarization.
Web 3.0 (Web3) is the next generation of the internet, dominated by blockchain-based apps. Web3 is intended to eliminate Big Tech from the equation, with much of it being free and open-source, and to provide transaction data that is unique and authentic.
It brings a frenzy for NFTs (non-fungible tokens) – one-of-a-kind digital products such as art.
Some believe that Web3 has the potential to improve the internet and society by allowing musicians to be paid every time a song is played, reducing fraud and enabling instantaneous credentialing, for example.
However, some critics believe this is just the latest ruse in the online world.
Web3, NFTs, and how they are related
Cryptocurrency is currently one of the main components of Web3, according to Christian Catalini, the founder of the MIT Cryptoeconomics Lab and a research scientist at the MIT Sloan School.
NFTs are another Web3 technology that is primarily used for digital art and other digital content. The difference between a regular JPG image and a JPG that is also an NFT is that the JPG NFT is accompanied by a digital token of ownership. Unlike any other JPG you download, you own the JPG NFT.
The NFT JPG is built on a blockchain, which is a public digital database that records unique and irreversible cryptocurrency transactions and is distributed across many computers owned by no single person or entity.
“Web3 is really a suite of technologies that use these tokens to create new types of digital platforms and digital ecosystems,” Catalini explained.