Currently onboarding alpha partners.
Get early access
November 28, 2022

What are Web2 and Web3?

It seems that lately, everyone is talking about Web2 and Web3. You may have seen these terms and wondered, what, exactly, is the difference?

It seems that lately, everyone is talking about Web2 and Web3. You may have seen these terms and wondered, what, exactly, is the difference between Web1, Web2, and Web3? Which version of the internet are we using now?

As complex as they seem at first glance, the difference between Web2 and Web3 is easier to understand than many think. We’ve created this guide to help get you sorted out. But to get to the future, let’s start at the beginning.

What is Web1?

If you are a “typical” internet user (read: not a software developer) you might recall, between 1989 and the early 2000s, getting to the internet was a bit tricky. You could get online, but generally through a portal provided by your internet service provider. And once on that portal, there was some news, and a few things to see, but not a whole lot to do. That was Web1.

According to Techopedia, Web1 (sometimes Web 1.0, and other times simply the World Wide Web) is considered “the ‘read-only’ web – a web that was not interactive in any significant sense. The web user was, for the most part, passive, and much of the user input took place offline. Generally, Individual webpages were made of static pages that were hosted on web servers run by an internet service provider (ISP) or on free web hosting services.”

Though it seems unlikely and hard to remember, even for those who were there, there were very few advertisements. Truly interactive eCommerce was still years away. The places where users interact–like chat rooms and instant messaging–had not yet been incorporated into social media sites. And social media itself was only just starting to emerge at the tail end of this era. 

But by the mid-2000s, things started to change.

What is Web2?

Developers quickly started to recognize the potential of the internet as an interactive tool, and Web2 was born. It’s worth mentioning that there’s no difference between Web2.0 and Web3.0 and Web2 and Web3. The terms are used interchangeably and are a matter of preference.

Web2 is considered the read/write internet. That is to say, technology was developed that allowed users to communicate better, both with each other and with the companies on whose websites they spent time. TechTarget explains that “Web 2.0 is characterized by greater user interactivity and collaboration, more pervasive network connectivity, and enhanced communication channels.” 

With Web2 we see dynamic content, the rise of social media, an explosion of advertising, and the proliferation of tech giants. NPR says “Platforms like Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter emerged to bring order to the Internet by making it easy to connect and transact online.”

Today, most internet users recognize that we are at the mercy, to some extent, of these tech giants. Google, for example, compiles massive amounts of user data, from search preferences to demographics. And their algorithms may have played a role in your reading this blog today. Amazon is ready to sell you a product the second you think you want it. 

And here, critics of Web2 say, is a major pain point. Are these tech giants simply too powerful? And how can we take back control of our data?

What is the difference between Web2 and Web3?

 While much of Web3 remains speculative, with developers and programmers dreaming it further into existence every day, there are a few things that look likely to make Web3 different from Web2. 

First, Web3 aims to wrest control of user data away from big tech. Instead, as envisioned, users will be able to control their own data, choosing who to share it with, and for what reward. In Web3, data will be stored on peer-to-peer networks and shared using blockchain technology, instead of being stored and utilized by big tech. 

Next, we should see a waning of the power of any central authority when it comes to regulating the internet. Users will, we think, be able to “bounce around from social media to email to shopping using a single personalized account, creating a public record on the blockchain of all of that activity.”

Finally, as we’ve explained in our blog, the same tools and techniques that are being used to market NFTs will be vital in a Web3 future. And you can learn about them in our NFT Masterclass.

Start your NFT journey today.