The Internet is in full development. The old static network, which we later called Web 1.0, has become a dynamic global network in the last 20 years. From tens of thousands of users populating static pages from file systems on local servers, to billions of users dynamically using web applications from central providers. Web 2.0 was developed at the beginning of this century. It also relied on new web browsers that allowed users to search, sort, collectively retrieve, and classify information for free. This made it possible for the participants to participate in social networks, including the creation of virtual communities. By developing proprietary APIs, different software applications could be connected over the Internet.
Web 2.0 as we know it today was the basis for the development of the so-called dot.com economy. Because web 2.0 applications can communicate directly with end users, it was possible to do business based on those applications or web stores. Everybody knows the current Internet flight in the last 20 years and how important Web 2.0 is for our current economy and society. Latest counts indicate that there are now 5 billion Internet users, roughly 60% of the world’s population. And with a 4% annual growth rate, 27,000 people are gaining Internet access for the first time to the 1.8 billion active websites in existence.
The economic growth of web 2.0 was enormous. Over the past 5 years, the Internet economy has grown 22% per year, while the “regular” economy has averaged growth rates of 2-3%. Globally, the Internet-based economy is $11.5 trillion and represents more than 15% of total GDP. So that part of the economy is run entirely digitally and is still growing two and a half times faster than the average economy. The share of big tech companies in this digital economy was 9.3% of GDP in the US in 2021 and made up about 60% of the total. A sign that this digital economy is quite monopolistic at the moment.
The new use of the Internet, also known as Web 3.0, refers to the evolution of user interaction, turning the Web more and more into an active database. After rapid developments on the front end with new user experiences and mobile usage, the back end of the Internet is now becoming more important. The screen is no longer the same for all users, but can be adjusted per user and can display different data. In web 3.0 we talk about the semantic web, where information and the personal meaning of information is increasingly important. Much more information than the original Google search engine, which ushered in Web 2.0, could provide.
The semantic web is about the ability to understand the meaning of words, rather than just keywords or numbers. This means the need for artificial intelligence to enable fast linguistic processing and therefore deliver faster, but above all more relevant results. Also, growing support with 3D graphics. Three-dimensional designs and applications on websites and services. Museum guides, computer games, e-commerce, and geospatial contexts for building and residing in a 3D virtual world. By connecting semantic metadata, the user experience evolves into new possibilities to communicate with each other and exchange information. Web 3.0 is an essential paradigm shift from web 2.0. Just like web 2.0 was compared to static web 1.0.
The English word Ubiquity wonderfully conveys the essence of web 3.0. The Dutch translation is ‘ubiquity’, meaning so much that data can be sent and received anywhere and at any time. It is a concept used in philosophy and religions to indicate the (divine) quality that something is present everywhere at the same time. And it has and gives access to all the data and information that can be found in the universe. This is why the concept of the Metaverse is often linked with ubiquity: integral digital worlds that are loosely linked to each other and where we can travel and reside digitally. A digital twin of ourselves residing partly in the ordinary world and partly in different virtual worlds.
The combination of the aforementioned semantic applications and the ubiquity of this new virtual world also means new economic opportunities. New possibilities for communication and joint work as a citizen, client, company or government. More understandable, more radical, more global. A world that we already see emerging in the world of games and cryptocurrencies. New possibilities for interaction, payment, ownership and collaboration. Based on the possibility of having one’s own identity, protected, tested and accepted in that virtual world, comparable to the known normal world. You can even own bits in the metaverse, check out the blog: Bits, the atoms of the metaverse.
How to start the trip?
It is clear that our web 2.0 economy continues to grow faster than the physical economy. That also means that Web 2.0 will be ubiquitous for many decades to come. And all the technology, the platforms and the tools of that dotcom economy will continue to be important. However, we see that many companies, in addition to the gaming, cryptocurrency and entertainment industry, are also following this development with interest. Understand the enormous potential to be present in this new economy. Therefore, a 100% jump to the Metaverse is not possible, it will have to be done in small steps. Experiment, test small applications, new customers and opportunities for participation. With guaranteed support and support for the trusted web 2.0.
Therefore, new tools and solutions for the Metaverse must also maintain their link to the ‘normal’ web 2.0 environment. After all, the next few years will be slow, incremental steps toward that new virtual economy. How nice it would be if those new possibilities like autonomous identities, cryptocurrencies, wallets, tokens and passwordless login were enabled for both web 2.0 and web 3.0. Digicorp Labs was founded to develop the tools and solutions to facilitate that journey to web 3.0 and the Metaverse. With platforms that can be configured (again) decentralized as well as centralized. With data that can be securely stored in grids ubiquitously, instead of the current hacker-sensitive central storage. With self-sovereign digital identities legally obtained, verified and based on legitimate credentials. In short, a safe, reliable virtual economy, not unlike our well-known physical economy, only with all the virtual possibilities and the confidence that if things do not work, the old solutions will continue to work.
By: Hans Timmerman (photo), Chief Data Officer at DigiCorp Labs and Director of Fortierra