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Introduction to Web 1.0 and Web 2.0
The web is a miracle – digitizing information and making it available to the global audience is a revolution that changed the world forever. In the past, information was only accessible through the walls of libraries. However, beginning in the 1990s, people could access pieces of information using the internet – this new technology called “Web 1.0” laid the groundwork for other developments.
The web has become more sophisticated and interactive with different technologies and layers. In 2022, there were discussions about how Web 2.0 is getting outdated and a battle for the next web; will it be Web 3 or Web 5? To understand the future, let’s examine the history and evolution of the web.
The World Wide Web: The Birth of Web 1.0
In its early days, the Web wasn’t intended for general use; it was designed to exchange information between scientists worldwide. In 1989, Berners- Lee, a former employee of CERN, wrote a proposal to develop this communication tool. During the process, he discovered that this communication channel has greater potential which can benefit everyone, not just scientists. In 1990, Robert Cailliau, a computer scientist, and Berners- Lee worked together to create Web 1.0, which paved the way for the future of the web.
As with physical books, the primary purpose of Web 1.0 is to pass on information. The sole purpose of the first generation of the web was to deliver information in a digital format; it acted as a Content Delivery Network (CDN). Known as the “web of information” or the “read-only” web, it operated from 1989 to 2005. As a “read-only” site, the web provided only information for consumers but did not allow users to interact with it, nor could it collect their personal information. In Web 1.0, information can be easily located using a global identifier known as a Uniform Resource Locator (URL).
Using static web pages, Web 1.0 achieved its mission of making information publicly available to anyone. Its modus operandi and/or architecture was “Webmaster -to- Website -to- Users.” Web 1.0 had few content creators but served a global audience. With Web 2.0, the web would become interactive, allowing everyone to contribute and create content.
Web 2.0: The Social and Interactive Web
Web 2.0 is popularly known as the “read-write” web because it allows users to read and contribute to hosted content in contrast to Web 1.0’s static, non-interactive nature. It brought a natural death to Web 1.0, on which many startups and ideas have been built. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are practical examples of the second generation of the web. Web 2.0 has enabled content consumers to contribute to the content on the web, and these social platforms have proven that user-generated content is the foundation of online interactions.
- Social Media (e.g., Facebook)
- Blogs (e.g., WordPress)
- Web applications (e.g., Google Docs)
- E-commerce (e.g., Amazon)
- Hosted services (e.g., Google Maps)
- Podcasts (e.g., Spotify)
- Opinion-based Polls (or voting)
- RSS-based curation
- Video-sharing sites (e.g., YouTube)
Benefits of Web 2.0
Web 2.0 has many benefits, including:
- Socialization — With the help of Web 2.0, the world has become a global village as anyone from different continents can connect and socialize without any barrier.
- Real-Time Messaging — Similar to the above, Web 2.0 enhanced instant communication globally and is less formal than email.
- Collaboration — Effective collaboration requires like-minded people and seamless communication. Web 2.0 made this possible as two or more people of like minds can easily collaborate across the globe with no barrier of continent or race. Web 2.0 has been a connecting bridge between many individuals.
- Online Education — With Web 2.0, classroom experience has become a reality via the internet. Previously, educational materials could be uploaded to the web, but students could not provide feedback. Now, with video conferencing apps like Zoom and Google Meet, students can completely interact with their tutors.
The Disadvantages of Web 2.0
There are always good and bad sides to technological developments because every extraordinary development comes with one loophole or one “not-so-good” aspect to watch out for. In the last decade, Web 2.0 has made unmeasurable progress to web technology, but there are some gaps that make a better version necessary.
Despite its many benefits, Web 2.0 also has some disadvantages, including:
- Lack of privacy — User accounts can be created in Web 2.0, a feature not present in Web 1.0. Creating an account requires data exchange; users have to provide emails, phone numbers, names, and other private information to different platforms, which allows different platforms to track their activities. Platforms like Facebook and Google track users’ online activities even when they aren’t on their platform. The off-platform tracking technology allows them to gather enough data about each user for marketing purposes.
- Centralization and Identity Theft — Data supplied by users is stored in a central server that is susceptible to hacker attacks. In addition to causing data loss, bad actors can also use users’ identities to commit crimes. In 2018, the Cambridge Analytica Scandal revealed that the analytic firm illegally obtained data from tens of millions of Facebook users; the following year, Mark Zukerberg appeared for a Congress hearing. This illegal access and mishandling of users data was possible as a result of the centralized storage approach used in Web 2.0.
- Misinformation (fake news) — Media houses like BBC, CNN, and CNBC are to confirm the legitimacy of information before churning it out to the public. The purpose is to prevent misinformation, but Web 2.0 makes every user a “mini-media house.” Before the validity of information is established, users can spread rumors, and fuel chaos. Something of this nature happened in 2013 when The Associated Press’ Twitter account was hacked. The hacker tweeted about an explosion at Whitehouse, saying President Obama was injured. This fake news created over $136 billion loss in the stock market within a few minutes. Even though it was fake news, the damage had already been done.
- Risk of spamming — Have you ever received a Twitter or Instagram DM from someone who had no business contacting you? Or a Facebook friend request from a stranger pretending to be your old high school friend? These are a few examples of spamming that happens via the interactive feature of Web 2.0. Spammers have gone so far as purchasing software that extracts email addresses and phone numbers from social media platforms for advanced spamming purposes.
- Fraud — Would you believe that advertisers and developers used to steal users’ data for use with Facebook’s paid advertisement algorithm to defraud Facebook users in its early days? It took Facebook some time to stop this fraud. These are a few of the disadvantages of Web 2.0.
In the early 1990s, the first generation of the Web launched as a small project. Nevertheless, its growth changed the way information was consumed around the world. Since Web 1.0 ended, Web 2.0 has continued to transform many sectors and significantly contributed to our lives.
Regardless of these great fits, the loopholes of Web 2.0 calls for continuous improvement in how Web 2.0 operates and processes users’ data. If this inherent problem of Web 2.0 can’t be solved, a new phase of the Web with a different architecture can replace the present Web.
The foundational problem of Web 2.0 stems from how data is collected, saved, processed, and used. Hacking and data theft are only symptoms of the real problem, which is the centralization of users’ data. If centralization is the problem, then decentralization should offer a solution.
In response to the importance of decentralizing users’ data, Web3 was birthed, providing a better way to handle users’ data. However, one of the proponents of another phase of the Web, called Web5, says Web3 isn’t decentralized enough. How accurate are these claims? Find out by reading our articles on Web3 and Web5.
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