2019 marked the 30th anniversary of the world wide web. Decentralization and collaboration are driving its next iteration.
Just as cloud computing revolutionized how businesses manage and store information, blockchain will enable a new wave of innovation for information technology and databases. Distributed ledgers can encourage massive collaboration on a larger scale and usher in Web 3.0.
The internet is always evolving. So far, it has seen three major waves of innovation. Web 1.0, the beginning of the internet age, introduced static web pages, e-commerce, and email. Web 2.0 enabled decentralized collaboration and creativity by ushering in social networks, sharing economies, cloud computing, and dynamic self-sustaining content repositories like Wikipedia and Github. Some collaborations pushed our imagination beyond what we thought was possible, like Reddit’s April Fool’s Day 2017 experiment or Google’s six-month Quick Draw Doodling game.
With Web 3.0—in certain contexts referred to as the Semantic Web—collaboration and decentralized creation is accelerated for two reasons. First, gathering and understanding unstructured data will be much easier with advanced techniques in data mining, natural language processing (NLP), and text analytics. Second, machines will be able to collaborate directly with one another through artificial intelligence and machine learning. Eventually, machines will be able to teach one another as well. Such projects are already underway. In media, Otoy is cutting the costs of 3D visual effects production with a decentralized, distributed network of partners that can chip in spare processing power with a digital token known as RNDR.
The Interplanetary File System (IPFS) is a peer-to-peer hypermedia protocol that facilitates decentralized file-sharing and cloud computing. All this is possible because of what Joel Monegro from Union Square Ventures described as the “fat protocol layer.”
Web protocol layer is part of the full internet stack. “Full stack” refers to every stage of the computer programming/ web developers tool kit: front end (UX, design, HTML, Java, CSS) to back end (servers, databases, APIs, Python, Ruby). The internet stack has application layers and protocol layers. In web 2.0, most of the value rested in the application layer, with little variability in the protocol layer.
Examples of the most common protocols are HTTP used by browsers and SMTP and IMAP is used by email-clients.
In web 3.0, protocols and platforms may have much more potential for value creation, hence a larger protocol layer. Companies like Blockstack, Lightning Labs and RSK are building layer 2 networking products.
With web 3.0, web browsers and mobile applications can perform more complex processes and enable transactions that were previously not possible. In this new iteration of the internet, media companies could potentially set up micropayment systems or give users more control over their privacy and data.
Blockstack, Lightning Labs, RSK.
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