The digital population of the world is growing every day. The World Wide Web is helping more than 4 billion people across the globe share information.
It took decades to build the current Web data infrastructure. And the exciting part of the story is that the best days of the Web are ahead of us. The astounding 80–90 percent of our data that is unstructured today is becoming accessible and searchable, and creating tremendous value for individuals and businesses. This transformation of our data into intelligent and actionable information is changing the way we work, live and interact through a web of data connectivity called Web 3.0.
From the Decentralized Dream to Centralized Big Data and Then Back to Decentralization
In the early 1960s, J.C.R. Licklider envisioned a decentralized global computer network. The computer scientist worked at the Pentagon’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA). He dreamt of “an electronic commons open to all.” Licklider called it the “Intergalactic Computer Network,” a name right out of science-fiction. Later, it got the more practical name “ARPANET.” ARPANET is the starting point of the Web we know today.
But the Web 1.0 we saw in the early 1990s did not share the decentralized ethos of the early dreamers. It was challenging to create a proper decentralized infrastructure. We had limited computing power and internet bandwidth. Web 1.0 users could only view static websites, and the data resided on backend database servers. With these limitations, this version of the Web came to be known as the Syntactic Web or read-only Web.
Web 2.0, also called the Social Web or read-write Web, saw an increase in the internet user base. The increase was due to the rise of mobile devices. Users no longer needed a desktop to spend time on the internet. The ease with which they could interact with data gave rise to social media. With advances in cloud computing, companies could gather user information at a low cost and apply digital analytics to understand trends, patterns and relationships. The explosion in the volume of data and the tools to analyze it gave birth to Big Data.
Centralized Big Data gave rise to companies like Facebook, Amazon, Uber, Airbnb, Netflix, and more. Today cloud-based infrastructures are supporting these massive services. Web 2.0 has made it possible to view Netflix-recommended 4K videos from our homes or share our videos on YouTube.
But the problem with Web 2.0 is that data has become the property of big corporations. We are using these corporations as intermediaries to communicate with each other. There is no inherent trust mechanism between users in the Web 2.0 world.
Web 3.0 was invented to replace intermediaries with distributed users and computing devices. Web 3.0 is also known as the Semantic Web or read-write-execute Web. The following technologies are used to create a more interactive, immersive decentralized web:
- Augmented Reality (AR)
- Virtual Reality (VR)
- Artificial Intelligence (AI)
- the Internet of Things (IoT)
Now participants can interact peer-to-peer without the need for third-party intermediaries. The result is decentralized information as the original dreamers of the internet intended.
The Role of the Blockchain and dApps in the Web 3.0 Data Infrastructure
The success of Web 3.0 is dependent on decentralized data architecture. Blockchain and distributed applications (dApps) play a vital role in this new frontier.
As mentioned before, the problem with Web 2.0 is that data has become centralized on servers. A few companies like Google, Facebook, and Amazon own these servers. In the Web 3.0 architecture, users can store data in blockchains like Ethereum. Blockchains work as decentralized databases.
The Blockchain is also the underlying technology of Bitcoin. But Bitcoin is only a digital currency. The innovation of Ethereum is that it has used the idea of Blockchain and went further. It created a distributed database that executes code. These code snippets are known as smart contracts. Developers can use smart contracts to develop DApps.
At the center of the Ethereum network is the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM). Everyone who participates in the Ethereum blockchain network has a copy of the EVM. DApp developers can load their smart contracts to this virtual machine. When a user requests a smart contract transaction, the EVM adds new blocks to the Blockchain.
The data recorded on Blockchains is immutable. The network uses cryptographic techniques and proof-of-stake consensus to add blocks. In this way, Ethereum records the data in a decentralized manner. A single entity is not responsible for the information. This data architecture is crucial for the decentralized nature of Web 3.0.
The development community is excited about Web 3.0 opportunities. In 2020, dApp transaction volumes surpassed $270 billion. They are particularly enchanted with blockchains that support the interconnectivity of Web 3.0. Interoperable blockchains like Cardano, Polkadot, and Stellar Lumens allow users to exchange value through data and assets. By 2025, distributed ledger technology will help connect over 15 billion IoT devices bringing enhanced data intelligence and security to all facets of our lives. Because 95% of dApp transactions happen on the Ethereum network, more developers are exploring Ethereum alternatives with the scalability, speed, and interoperability to support this interconnected data-driven world on Web 3.0. So, we can expect non-Ethereum dApp numbers to increase in the future.
Global IoT Device Growth Forecast (in Billions)
More users means more data on Blockchains. As a result, developers are facing a challenge with data access times. It is inefficient to traverse every block of the Blockchain to find information. DApp developers are using homegrown indexing methods to overcome this problem.
Custom indexing methods mean duplication of work. Many developer hours are wasted solving the same issues. Our company Nakji sees an opportunity to provide solutions in this area. We are working on a middle layer to help dApp developers access data more efficiently. Our solution is designed to support the faster development of dApps and ultimately expand Web 3.0 to more users.
- Web 3.0: The Blockchain Effect | Justin Goldston | TEDxRIT (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D8NwwFv7kBA)
- Vitalik Buterin on Web 3.0, Decentralization & The Future of Blockchain (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hLSW_IJ3q6E)
- The Spatial Web: How Web 3.0 Will Connect Humans, Machines, and AI to Transform the World, Gabriel René (Author), Dan Mapes (Author), Jay Samit (Foreword) (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07X1V8D58)
- The GRAPH — Google Of Blockchains? GRT Token Explained (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7gC7xJ_98r8)