Today’s web experience is far greater than merely scrolling through a website to source some information. It’s not even limited to creating user-generated content like those social media experiences on Facebook or YouTube that forever changed the world we knew in 2005.
Now, the web is about to offer a fully-fledged life experience, where users can socialize, play, or collaborate with colleagues without borders. And we are likely to see it evolve further, considering that experts expect the Web3 Blockchain market to grow at a CAGR of almost 45% between 2023 and 2030.
The online world has moved from read-only static websites, with no user-generated content, to a decentralized web with increased user rights and ownerships, where people seamlessly communicate, work, create, and entertain themselves online. But how did this happen? Here’s a brief overview of the web evolution.
Experience the Evolution: Dive into the three waves of the Internet and the Metaverse with our interactive video recap:
– What is the difference between Web1, Web2, and Web3?
– What is the Metaverse?
– What’s next?
One-Way Communication: Web1
Back in 1990, a British scientist, Tim Berners-Lee, invented the World Wide Web to enable automated information-sharing between scientists around the globe. The technology was later adopted by businesses that started to invest in static websites, usually basic HTML pages, and simple banner ads. It was the time of “read-only” capabilities, with no user-generated content or interaction.
Two-Way Communication: Web2
In 2005, the read-only format evolved into the read-write web, granting us a lot of user-generated content and improved interfaces. As a result, there was a rise in social media like Facebook and Twitter, messengers like WhatsApp, blogs, and websites like Wikipedia and YouTube. With the focus on interoperability between websites and applications, as well as users being able to put their content on the web, the world has gained access to a wide pool of resources.
Strong web adoption and global internet access, combined with smartphones that enabled on-the-go access, Web2 has become and remains an indispensable part of human lives. Corporations, in turn, have started to collect, analyze, and often resell user data, promoting its monetization.
Immersive Decentralized Communication: Web3
The third generation of web technologies, Web3, is commonly referred to as “read-write-trust-verifiable” and is being ushered in as you read this blog post. It boosts interoperability to the next level, allowing for a more immersive user experience, while leveraging blockchain technology, open-source applications, and the decentralization of data. This enables users to monetize their data, granting control over content from monopolistic tech companies to regular users. The latest generation of the web is powered by such technologies as AI, ML, VR, and AR, which, in turn, fosters the metaverse.
Web3 allows users to access the Metaverse — a virtual 3D world where users can interact with computer-generated blockchain-based environments and other users. If we are to make an analogy, then Web3 is a road for a user to reach the metaverse. With a backup of decentralized ownership and control, you can join a shared digital reality to communicate through AR and VR with others in real time and to build economies. It promotes brand-new immersive experiences in terms of socializing, retail, and gaming.
Although the metaverse is still emerging, the concept of a 3D immersive internet dates back decades. Here are some key events on its evolution timeline:
- 1938: French poet and playwright, Antonin Artaud, incorporated the term “virtual reality” in a collection of his essays.
- 1962: Morton Heilig, an American filmmaker, built a machine that simulated the experience of riding a motorcycle through New York via a 3D movie with vibrating chairs, a fan, and smells.
- 1984: A VR pioneer, Jaron Lanierm, developed one of the first VR headsets and data gloves.
- 1992: The term metaverse was coined by an American Sci-fi writer, Neal Stephenson, in his book Snow Crash.
- 2003: A shared 3D virtual space, Second Life, was released. It allowed users to explore, interact with others, build things, and exchange virtual goods.
- 2006: Roblox allowed users to play massively multiplayer games developed by other users.
- 2007: Street View was added to Google Maps, allowing you to explore a virtual representation of the real world.
- 2009: Bitcoin and the first public blockchain were launched.
- 2012: Oculus, the first low-cost 3D hardware for the masses, was launched by Palmer Luckey. Later in 2014, it was bought and scaled up by Facebook.
- 2014: An artist, Kevin McCoy, and a tech entrepreneur, Anil Dash, created the first non-fungible token—a unique, cryptographically secured virtual asset.
- 2015: Vitalik Buterin and Gavin Wood launched Ethereum, which allowed the creation of decentralized apps on a blockchain. A year later DAO—an earthly decentralization autonomous organization for raising VC funds—was built based on it.
- 2016: An AR-based game, Pokemon GO, was introduced and widely adopted around the globe.
- 2018: The use of NFTs based on Ethereum Blockchain has become popular in a play-to-earn game, Axie Infinity.
- 2019: Fortnite became the most popular shared virtual world, with 250+ million active users.
- 2021: Facebook rebranded as Meta to promote its expansive vision of the metaverse, while Google introduced Mesh to synchronize virtual collaboration.
- 2022: Siemens and Nvidia partnered on the industrial metaverse.
Throughout almost a century of immersive virtual reality, today, you can explore new user experiences across numerous metaverses. You can host a meeting, show, or class in Microsoft’s AltspaceVR, become a hero by creating your unique avatar in Metahero, or create and monetize custom content and monetize while playing in the Sandbox metaverse.
Related article: A Simple History of the Internet
Web evolution has already transformed the way humans live and are likely to provide a greater impact in the future. As Web3 and the metaverse are still emerging, we may expect a rise of decentralized internet and finance, more immersive experiences that may be closely connected with real-world interactions, as well as higher interoperability.
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