words. Metaverse Academy: Olivia Schiffmann + Gustavo Salami
digital illustration. Anya Biarozka
issue 1 – in love with Switzerland

The evolution of the Internet to date can be roughly divided into three stages: Web 1.0, Web 2.0 and Web3. The latter is currently emerging, while Web 2.0 is at its peak (or, depending on expert opinion, already beyond it). And Web 1.0 has been history for a long time.

A brief definition of the three eras:

Web 1.0 was the first stage of Internet evolution. Web pages were plain, informative, and consisted mostly of text blocks and other static content. There was no interactivity, no comments, no videos. An example of this is Wikipedia, which has largely retained elements of Web 1.0 to this day (texts, chapters, hyperlinks).

Web 2.0 developed from around 2002, and the term does not refer to any particular technical improvement to the Internet, but to the way in which its use has changed. In the new age, there is a higher degree of information sharing and networking between participants. Above all, the triumph of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram or the integration of reader comments or blog posts and thus of “user-generated content” are key features of Web 2.0.

Finally, Web3 is just emerging; it is the third and thus next evolutionary stage of the Internet. Web3 is based on the core concepts of decentralization, openness and greater added value for users.

Experts are still debating whether the semantic web or blockchain (or both?) should be considered Web3. Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the Internet, defined Web3 as a “semantic web” back in 1996. In simplified terms, this means that artificial intelligence will be able to understand and reuse the content of the Internet ever better. Smart home assistants are examples that are already being used today.

A second definition of the Web3 was made by Ethereum co-founder Gavin Wood in 2014. His three criteria are: An Internet where users manage their own data. An Internet where global, digital transactions are secure. And an Internet in which the exchange of information and goods is decentralized. Decentralization means, for example, that no third party is needed for transactions and that data is distributed, stored and continuously updated on many servers around the world. The idea behind the decentralized web3 is based on blockchain technology.

Also a crucial feature are the so-called “value transfers”. This refers to flawlessly verifiable transfers of tokens, for example, between two or more parties on the basis of the blockchain.

And what comes next? The terms Web4 and Web5 are already appearing in the literature. The distinction is still unclear, but the Internet is likely to evolve into a symbiotic Web. The boundaries between the real and virtual worlds are increasingly disappearing, and users are hardly separated from the Internet. Devices are constantly receiving and sending data streams and are interconnected.