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What is the difference between Web 3.0 and the Web 2.0 era?

Web 3.0, the third generation of the Internet, has recently become the latest concept in future technology, following in the footsteps of non-identical tokens (NFT) and the metaverse. What is the difference between this change, which is mainly advocated by the blockchain and cryptocurrency community, and the Web 1.0 era of the past, the Web 2.0 we are now living in, and even the Web 3.0 that was predicted more than a decade ago, and how can Web 3.0 be realized, what changes do these promoters hope to bring about, and how will it work? What kind of changes do the drivers hope to bring about, and can Web 3.0 really bring about a better world?

According to Chris Dixon, a partner at the famous venture capitalist Andreesen Horowitz (a16z), Web 1.0 was the Internet from 1995 to 2005, characterized by decentralized, community-governed open protocols. Netizens with some qualifications should remember that during this period, static webpages written in HTML language were often seen on the Internet, with little interaction, and the webpages were not often updated; netizens often contacted each other by email, or wrote simple blogs.

From 2005 to the present, a16z defines Web 2.0 as the Internet. Internet users are no longer passive recipients of information as in Web 1.0, especially after the popularization of smartphones and the rise of user-generated content (UGC) on the platform, such as YouTube videos or Facebook posts, which has driven the development of social media; at the same time, the major activities on the Internet have gradually been dominated by a handful of tech giants such as Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook. Amazon, Facebook, and so on.

The next Internet generation is naturally Web 3.0.

Mat Dryhurst, a part-time lecturer at New York University's School of the Arts who studies cryptocurrency and big data, admits that it's not easy to try to explain what Web 3.0 is because it's so loosely defined, but he also says, "Every new invention on the Internet is confusing at first. In fact, since the mid-2000s, many people have been imagining and predicting what Web 2.0 will look like after Web 3.0, talking about concepts such as big data, artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT). Importantly, none of these imaginings are what the recent wave of Web 3.0 is advocating - that is, a next-generation Internet based on blockchain and running on cryptocurrencies.

a16z has set up at least three funds totaling $3.1 billion dedicated to investing in cryptocurrencies and Web 3.0 (also known as Web3). It defines Web 3.0 as "a set of technologies covering digital assets, decentralized finance (DeFi), blockchain, tokens and decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs)." Blockchain Ethereum defines "Web3 refers to decentralized applications (dapps) that run on blockchains. These applications allow anyone to participate without selling the user's personal data."

Judging from the conceptual content of this wave of Web 3.0 and the background of its supporters, it is almost certain that this topic is riding on the rise of blockchain cryptocurrency technology in recent years, coupled with the business opportunities of NFT in the past year. At the same time, this sudden rush of interest is not entirely on paper within the cryptocurrency community. There are already a number of decentralized finance (DeFi) and game-based finance (GameFi) applications for dapps, and this new wave is starting to catch the attention of large tech companies, with social media outlet Twitter announcing early last month that it would be setting up a team dedicated to researching dapps applications, and IBM Research's head of financial sciences, Nitin Gaur, describing how Nitin Gaur, director of financial science research at IBM Research, described DAOs and blockchain smart contracts as "an evolutionary step" that could eliminate opacity and fraud in business transactions. a16z also sent a team to meet with members of the U.S. Capitol Hill and the White House in October to educate them on the benefits of Web 3.0 and to suggest regulatory possibilities.

Some recent gimmicky projects have added fuel to the Web 3.0 conversation. Last month, cryptocurrency enthusiasts organized ConstitutionDAO on Ether, a so-called DAO that can operate like any company, charity, or special interest group, with investors, administrators, rules, assets, and common goals, but runs on a blockchain and tokens. Last month, Sotheby's bid on one of the first printed copies of the U.S. Constitution. In about a week, it raised about $47 million from more than 17,000 investors. If the bidding is successful, investors will be able to vote on how the Constitution will be housed, such as how it will be stored and where it will be displayed, with their funds converted into "governance tokens" called PEOPLE.

Although the bid ultimately failed, ConstitionDAO describes them as "still making history": "We've educated people from all over the world, from museum curators and art directors to our grandmothers, who have asked us what Ether is, who have asked us about the possibilities of Web3."

If you believe these proponents, Web 3.0 is a reaction to the monopoly problems of the tech giants under Web 2.0. The selling point of Web 3.0 is that it is decentralized, so that users no longer need to go through an intermediary service such as Google, Apple, or Facebook to gain access to the Internet; there is no need for "permission," so that there is no longer an authoritative organization acting as a gatekeeper to dictate who can use what services; and there is no need for "trust," meaning that virtual transactions between more than two parties no longer need an intermediary to facilitate them. There is no need for "permission", i.e. there is no longer any authoritative organization to act as a gatekeeper to dictate who can use what services, and there is no need for "trust", i.e. there is no longer any intermediary to facilitate virtual transactions between more than two parties. web 3.0 advocates argue that this is theoretically a better way to protect our privacy, since it is these centralized and intermediary organizations that are collecting the bulk of our data.

In addition, a16z's Dixon believes that the Web 2.0 model will only create a bottleneck for development and innovation. He explained that initially, centralized platforms try to recruit users and third-party supporters such as creators, developers and enterprises to enhance the network effect. However, as the platforms evolved, their relationship with network participants went from positive-sum to zero-sum, i.e. to continue to grow, they would have to extract data from users and compete with partners who were already in a collaborative relationship. Historical examples include Microsoft and defunct browser developer Netscape, Google and yellow pages site Yelp, Facebook and social platform game developer Zynga, and Apple and game developer Epic Games, among others, Dixon said. Dixon says this shift from collaboration to competition will, over time, stifle innovation as talented entrepreneurs, developers and investors find that services should no longer be built on centralized platforms.

That's why Tomicah Tillemann, head of global policy at a16z, once told the financial media outlet CNBC Business, "Web 3 is an alternative to a digital present that frankly sucks ...... It's a response to all the challenges that Web 2 generated." Dixon claims that Web 3.0 will combine the benefits of the previous one or two generations of the Internet: "It combines the decentralized, community-managed spirit of Web 1 with the advanced, modern capabilities of Web 2."

As a result, proponents of Web 3.0 imagine the metaverse differently from the tech giants, and when Facebook changed its name to Meta to become a metaverse company, CEO Mark Zuckerberg emphasized that it would be an Internet where immersive experiences are realized through virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR) and could not be built by Facebook alone. The Internet is an immersive experience through virtualization (VR) or augmented reality (AR), and it can't be built by Facebook alone. But perhaps more importantly for the cryptocurrency community, the meta-universe should no longer have intermediary giants like Facebook.

Even without being obsessed with what Web 3.0 actually is, the promoters admit that there are still some difficulties that need to be overcome in order to realize it. First, technology: EtherNet pointed out on its official website that there are several problems to be solved in Web 3.0: scalability, the decentralized system that relies on "miners" to process and disseminate transactions makes transactions slower; second, user experience (UX): the use of Web 3.0 various applications compared to Web 2.0 involves additional steps, software, and education, which may affect the pace of popularization; third, accessibility: the lack of integration of existing browsers makes it difficult for most users to access Web 3.0; and the lack of integration of existing browsers makes it difficult for most users to access Web 3.0. Accessibility: The lack of integration with existing browsers makes it difficult for most users to access Web 3.0; Cost: Most successful dapps only put a very small portion of the source code on the blockchain due to the high cost.

Currently, dapps projects vary in quality and obviously are not mature enough. For example, GameFi's games have poor playability; DeFi projects still have cases of rug pull or program loopholes that allow hackers to steal money; and ConstitutionDAO's experiment, apart from demonstrating the ability to raise funds quickly, doesn't seem to be a positive "education" for DAOs. The DAO was actually controlled by a centralized team because it was established in a hurry according to official claims. As a result, after the bidding failed, the members can't really decide whether the DAO will exist or not, or where it will go with their tokens; the core team has changed the plan several times, which has caused the value of $PEOPLE to fluctuate, and some of the members who only participated for the sake of speculating on the coins for profit are worried about whether it's a scam or not; even though it's possible to get refunds, the current Ether Gas Fee is very high, and the average investment made by the members is only about $200, which means the refunds are almost equivalent to losing all their money. In other words, a refund would mean almost nothing. Even though this is not the case for every blockchain project, it is clear that these problems are a deterrent for Web 2.0 users. In response, Katie Haun, another partner at a16z, emphasized on The Ezra Klein Show, a New York Times podcast, that cryptocurrencies shouldn't be judged by their current state of development and ultimately their level of innovation.

Furthermore, the "freedom" of Web 3.0 has its risks. In Web 3.0, for example, online speech and accounts will no longer be censored by social media, and there will be no one to stop payments. Dayhurst, a lecturer at New York University, describes unlimited freedom as a "deal with the devil": "It's exciting that there's nothing stopping people from building the kind of community they want to build, but for the same reason there's nothing stopping someone from building something terrible. In the past, decentralized social networks have proven particularly attractive to white supremacists and other far-right groups. But Sam Williams, founder of the blockchain data storage project Arweave, believes that most Web 3.0 communities are capable of determining what is appropriate speech, and are better off overall than being dominated by social media: "If we stay with the current model, we're going to be more and more mired in the idea of a handful of corporations run by a handful of people dominating our experience of the online world.... ... the problems of the tech giants will be even worse."

However, it's not clear that governments are happy to see the emergence of a completely decentralized Web 3.0. For example, China's central bank has outlawed all cryptocurrency trading, and miners are leaving the country under state regulation; India is planning to introduce legislation late last month to prohibit its citizens from owning or trading cryptocurrencies; and the Biden administration in the US is planning to impose bank-like regulations on stable coins and require cryptocurrency intermediaries to file tax returns. When state intervention is expected, it is doubtful that Web 3.0 will be born, or that it will take the form that its promoters expect.

Finally, there are those who question whether this Web 3.0 is so ideal. James Grimmelmann, a professor of digital and information law at Cornell University, expressed his reservations to National Public Radio (NPR): "Web 3.0 is just vaporware," he said, "and it's a promise that this future Internet will solve all the problems that people don't like about the current Internet, even if it's a paradoxical vision. They're promising that this Internet of the future will solve all the problems that people don't like about the Internet today, even if that vision has its contradictions."

He explains and questions that if this Web 3.0 is supported on the grounds of data privacy, the blockchain is not a good solution, because it will only make more data public: "It just doesn't make sense. This vision says that the problem with the Internet is that there are too many centralized intermediaries; instead of using a lot of different apps and websites, we're going to have to put it all in the same place, which is the blockchain. While he recognizes that blockchain has its uses, he only anticipates that "blockchain may be one of many tools to build the next Internet, but that doesn't mean the Internet has to be built around it."

Many of those who got rich by investing in cryptocurrencies during the new coronavirus epidemic are looking around for the next investment hotspot, and Grimmelmann believes that the still theoretical Web 3.0 is what these people want right now: "There's a lot of people out there who have money that they want to invest, and they need to have some kind of vision of the future in order to put their money into it."

At present, it is difficult to conclude that Web 3.0 is just another investment hype or even a scam; the emergence of the discussion about Web 3 itself, more and more important significance seems to be in the re-emphasis of the existing Web 2.0 problems. Regardless of whether you believe that Web 3.0, as advocated by these pushers, is the necessary way out to solve the problems, or whether you have another definition and imagination of the next generation of the Internet, what is more certain is that the problems of Web 2.0 are bound to be solved in the next Internet era.

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