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July 25, 2022
Victoria Rudi

Web3: Building the Future of the Internet

Let’s start this article by going back to October 29, 1969, three months after the human-crewed moon landing.

It was a regular Wednesday evening. Charley Kline, a 21-year-old programmer, was sitting in an empty UCLA computer lab. Nothing suggested that he’ll make history that evening. As usual, Kline placed a call to Bill Duval, a computer programmer at Stanford. They have tested the IMP, an interface message processor,* for some time. ‍

*Quick note: Think about the IMP as an early version of the Internet router but only bigger (two full-size gym lockers).

Interface Message Processor (IMP)

Kline and Duval were always hooked to a telephone headset. Their goal was to test the IMP and connect two computers (one at UCLA and one at Stanford) via satellite communication. They wanted to send a message from one computer (UCLA) to another (Stanford).

That night, they agreed to make another attempt.  

Kline was supposed to type and send the word “login.” The first thing he typed was an L. On the other end, Duvall confirmed that he received the L. Next, Kline typed the O, and Duvall received it. As Kline typed the G, a sudden bug crashed the communication.

That’s how “lo” became the first-ever message sent over a computer network.


After an hour, at 10:30 p.m., the programmers solved the problem, and Kline successfully sent the “Login” message.

Without realizing it, Kline and Duval brought ARPANET, the predecessor of the World Wide Web, into existence.

What happened next?

Nothing much. According to NPR, Kline called it a night and went to rest, and Duvall stopped for a quick burger and a beer on his way home.

The idea of building an IMP belonged to computer scientist Bob Taylor. Taylor was working for the Advanced Research Projects Agency back in the day. He had three computer terminals in his office. Yet, Taylor was becoming increasingly frustrated because each computer was connected to a different part of the country. In other words, to communicate with different regions, he had to get up and connect to different terminals. According to Taylor:

“You don’t have to look at this very long to realize this is silly. This is stupid. So I decided, OK, I want to build a network that connects all of these.”

Besides building a team (including Duval and Kline), Taylor also searched for companies to help him make the IMP.

But guess what: IBM and AT&T refused, saying it’s useless and can’t be done. Luckily, a smaller company called Bolt accepted the challenge and built the IMP.

The World Wide Web developed thanks to non-profit organizations, universities, and research centers. The resources were limited. That’s why it took considerable time to develop into the primary Internet generation, web 1.0.

→ The Characteristics of Web 1.0

Think about Web 1.0 as a library. People could use it to consume information. Web 1.0 was static, and the online information was:

  • Owned
  • Uneditable
  • Non-interactive
  • One-way communication

Think about sites such as WebMD. People can access the website to consume information, yet they can’t change or interact with it.

In other words, the Internet wasn’t anything else than a space for copy-paste brochures and magazines people could read online.

Then, in 2000, the Dot-com bubble happened, during which most prominent Internet brands closed, and companies such as Amazon and Cisco lost large portions of their market valuation.

According to Chris Dixon, general partner at the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, the Dot-com bubble resulted in a few dark years for Internet entrepreneurship. Many entrepreneurs had problems raising money, and the general sentiment at the time was that the Internet was cool, but its business value was way overestimated.

However, like in most cases, the crisis encouraged a new way of thinking, nudging some entrepreneurs to innovate and reveal new business possibilities the Internet can enable.

This is how Web 2.0 companies have emerged.  

→ The Characteristics of Web 2.0

Web designer and UX expert Darcy DiNucci was the first to coin the Web 2.0 term in 1999. In 2004, Tim O’Reilly and Dale Dougherty, the co-founders of the O’Reilly media, held the first Web 2.0 conference, which brought attention to the new phenomenon.

Compared to Web 1.0, Web 2.0 focuses on

  • Interactivity
  • User-generated content
  • Bi-directional communication and data sharing
  • Dynamic content, responsive to user input
  • API for self-usage

Think about platforms such as Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram, where people can create content and interact with other users.

Web 2.0 is what we know and use today. Blogs, podcasts, social media platforms, dating apps, SaaS companies, and wikis would have been impossible without Web 2.0.

However, emerging technologies, such as blockchain technology, motivate innovators and entrepreneurs to envision and build a new way of interacting online. And this new way is called Web3.

→ The Characteristics of Web3

According to the Web 3.0 Landscape Report by a16z, Web 1.0, an era that lasted from the 1980s through the early 2000s, Internet services were built on open protocols.

This situation resulted in a stable environment for everyone to build the Internet ecosystem. From the mid-2000s to the present, companies built a second layer of proprietary, closed protocols on top of the Internet’s open protocols.

The report states:

“This has been a period of centralization, as for-profit tech companies—most notably Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon—built software and services that rapidly outpaced the capabilities of open protocols.”

The report continues by highlighting: 

“However, in many cases, these closed protocols are not tech companies’ core business: individuals don’t pay Google to use Gmail, but instead Gmail feeds into Google’s core business of collecting data and selling ads. This is the world of Web 2.0.”

And although we’re in the early stages of developing a new way of doing things online, web3 aims to incentivize and reward communities for maintaining and developing core infrastructure.

According to the a16z Policy Agenda:

“Web3—a group of technologies that encompasses blockchain, cryptographic protocols, digital assets, decentralized finance, and social platforms, NFTs, and DAOs—is the third generation of the internet.”

Web3 involves building a decentralized, ubiquitous, permissionless, and trustless Internet:

>> Decentralized: Web 2.0 is based on storing information at a fixed location, generally on a single server. In other words, Internet giants such as Google and Meta control the users’ data. With Web3, though, information can be stored in multiple locations simultaneously, this way being decentralized. In other words, this can break the massive databases currently held by tech giants.

>> Ubiquitous: On web3, users can access information anywhere and anytime via various devices. Apart from computers, smartphones, and tablets, the list includes Internet of Things devices.

>> Permissionless and trustless: You don’t need third-party intermediaries on Web3. Thanks to blockchain technology, peer-to-peer networks, decentralized apps (dApps), and smart contracts, everyone will be able to participate without authorization from a governing body.

It’s worth noting that these are only a few Web3 characteristics that will make it unique from everything we’ve experienced before. And although it’s still early to predict how Web3 will look, it’s obvious that we’re on the verge of accessing an entirely new way of interacting online.