Before we get down to brass tacks to compare Web2 and Web3, let us first understand how we got here, all the way from Web1 to Web2 and finally to Web3. When the internet was born, it was solely used for the purpose of information gathering. Information was accumulated from various different places and digitized on the internet by a handful of extremely tech-savvy people who knew how to operate this revolutionary thing called the internet. For the general person, it was simply a convenient location where you could get answers to your question about practically everything. This was so primarily due to the fact that the ability to create new web pages on the internet was restricted to these tech-savvy people. That was Web1.
Then came Web2, something of which the current generation is very aware, even if they don’t categorize it as such. Web2 practically brought about the democratization of content creation on the internet. Now, anybody could simply record a video on their smartphones or computers or create a blog post within minutes to publish those things for the world to see and enjoy.
Then we saw the advent of Web3 – a revolutionary new idea that is challenging the way people think about ownership in the digital space. While the land you buy in your name might be yours – however a piece of content in the form of a video that you publish on a platform such as YouTube technically isn’t yours – despite the fact that you were the one who created it. Any of these platforms reserve the right to outrightly ban you, or delete your video from the public sphere without your consent or prior intimation. Web3 is here to change that. Web3 is still in its infancy stages, but it is quickly gaining popularity in today’s world as more and more people are beginning to understand this novel concept. While the future seems uncertain, who knows what kind of businesses will emerge to take advantage of this new model of ownership of digital content and create a new digital economy?
So let us now get into the nitty-gritty of what the differences are between Web2 and Web3.
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So as mentioned earlier, Web2 is an era of the internet of which we are all well aware in the current day and age. By the time Web2 became mainstream in the world, people were already well-versed with the basic technical aspects of the internet and were able to grasp more. Further, as the technology progressed through the years, the user interface became more and more user-friendly by becoming easy and intuitive to use.
Today, even a five-year-old can operate a smartphone, thanks to its intuitive functionalities and processes. It conveys its information more in a visual way and less in the form of a coded structure. This is what gave rise to the era of Web2 – which brought about the democratization of the internet. With extremely high, and still growing internet penetration across the globe. -Web2 has gained far greater mainstream attention and adoption than Web1 was able to achieve.
This is, however, primarily due to the concept of User Generated Content (UGC) that Web2 was able to bring about on the internet. This includes everything from Facebook posts to Instagram stories, microblogs on Twitter, or tech review videos on YouTube – all of these things fall under this category. Many of the biggest tech companies and social media giants and even e-commerce platforms of today are built on the back of UGC and which is why it has been able to garner such attention.
In the example mentioned in the introduction, while you are able to create and even monetize the content you create in the Web2 economy – you still aren’t technically owners of your own content. While YouTube or any other streaming service or social media platform will let you publish content and pay you for it, it reserves the sole right to unpublish it, ban the creator or even decide to not compensate the creator for it.
This is where Web3 comes in to solve the issue of digital ownership. A piece of content built on a Web3 digital economy, which is built in a truly decentralized manner will effectively preserve the ownership of the content with the creator and not with the platform used to publish it. Thus it gives control back into the hands of the creators and enables them to be fairly compensated for their work.
Web3 also brings in the concept of a true censorship-free digital creator economy, where one’s content is never truly censored as it runs on a decentralized network and the ownership and governance of that network are divided amongst its participants. Web3 also creates a platform that would enable and facilitate the cross-border, limitless, and cheap transfer of funds and value at very high speeds, which again, cannot be controlled by one single entity or organization, as is the case today.
There are scores of other benefits that Web3 brings along with it, over Web2 as of now, however, with the current pace of technology and adoption, there are certain limitations to it too, which we will further explore down below.
Let’s look at the differences between Web2 and Web3 in the form of a table as shown below.
|Web2 is censorship-prone as it is controlled by centralized entities that can exercise their will on their platforms.||Web3 is truly censorship-resistant as it is not controlled by centralized entities but rather governed by a collective of participants who run the network in a democratic manner.|
|Payment systems in the Web2 economy require the presence of a centralized controlling authority, be it in national or cross-border payments.||Web3 is a tech revolution that creates a system that does not require any trusted intermediary to process a payment using blockchain technology, thus enabling fast and cheap transactions across the globe.|
|Web2 is prone to a single point of failure issue or attack on its platform as Web2 systems are built on one of only a few different servers.||Web3 by nature is built on computers of every node on the network, and all data is shared by all the participants on the network and thus is less prone to a single point of failure attack.|
|Web2, since it is built on centralized servers is also very susceptible to mutability and data can be affected by those who have access to the server.||Web3, since it is built not on a single server but in a decentralized ledger format – thus making data stored on it fully immutable.|
|Web2, as mentioned earlier, is based on a centralized system and thus is able to provide greater throughput, and work more effectively and efficiently as it expends less computational resources.||Web3, being based on a distributed ledger technology, is based on a decentralized blockchain system and thus is able to provide lower throughput than centralized systems, and expends more computational resources.|
|Newer features and functionalities are easier to implement in Web2 because of its centralized structure.||Newer features and functionalities are far more difficult to implement due to Web3’s decentralized structure and require more time to implement them.|
This is, by far, the biggest and the most defining benefit of Web3. Instead of data being centralized and held in the hands of a few, in Web3, data is rather held in a decentralized manner across computers connected through the blockchain network. In a blockchain network, data is stored in every participating computer on the network simultaneously instead of on a localized/centralized server thus bringing a higher level of security and decentralization into the mix. This decentralization also brings about an added feature of immutability thus making data tamper-proof once it is recorded on the blockchain.
Thanks to the decentralized system of blockchain networks that runs Web3 ecosystems, it is rendered completely trustless and permissionless. What that means is that participants are enabled to interact directly with each other without the need for any centralized “trusted” intermediary to facilitate these transactions. This enables a Web3 ecosystem to be also fully permissionless, letting anyone participate without a single governing person or organization, but rather a democratic governing body also called a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO).
The Web3 ecosystem build on top of the smooth communication of the Web2 ecosystems but brings in the additional feature of it being truly decentralized and thus, this becomes a completely free and extremely connected ecosystem. Web3 will ensure that information and content will be more connected than ever before in the history of the internet, firstly thanks to the fact that technology itself is improving constantly, and secondly, Web3 provides a free, open, and unbiased platform for communication across the world.
Web3 is also ushering in the novel new concept of transfer of value without the need for centralized intermediaries in a purely cryptographic manner via crypto assets, which are also built on the blockchain. Crypto is what brought about the Web3 revolution back in 2009 when Bitcoin was released into the world. Decentralized finance (DeFi) platforms also were built in the world of crypto, thus revolutionizing the world of finance too, providing decentralized blockchain-based solutions to real-world offerings. This has resulted in the creation of a whole new industry too.
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Let’s look at some of the limitations of Web2:
Now, let us look at some of the limitations of Web3:
Thus, we have looked at the whole gamut of questions that you might have, being a new entrant in the space. It is important for any person who is trying to understand this ecosystem and make sense of it to be able to first know what it is all about and understand what it stands for. Otherwise, one might lack the conviction to stand with it through the tough times and not be able to reap the fruits of their labor.
Eventually, Web3 should be able to replace Web2 once it is able to provide all the features it promises with the ease of access and mainstream adoption that Web2 has seen in the past couple of years.
When the internet was born, it was solely used for the purpose of information gathering - this was Web1. Then came Web2, which saw the democratization of content creation and access to the internet and be able to monetize their content. But now, Web3 brings in the idea of true ownership of ones own digital assets and how it can be maintained on the internet as the world becomes more and more globalized.
Some of the biggest things Web3 promises to do that Web2 can't is to provide a decentralized platform built on a blockchain network that is truly tamper-proof and accessible by everybody to transfer value seamlessly across the globe.