Why Web3 and Web2 Will Co-Exist for a Very Long Time


May 9, 2023


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In a recent article about Web3 domain names, the author asks “Will Web3 make ICANN obsolete.” I agree with the author. No it will not.

In fact, there are plenty of reasons to believe that Web2 will live a long and prosperous life even after Web3 becomes the acceptable and dominant expression of the internet. Let’s start with Web1.

The Evolution of the Internet from Web0 to Web2

Anyone who understands the history of the internet is aware of its early beginnings when the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) developed the ARPANET, the U.S. Defense Department’s wide area network. This is what I call Web0. The ARPANET was the forerunner to today’s internet.

Even though the ARPANET was birthed in the 1960s, the officially recognized birthday of the internet is January 1, 1983. This is the day the ARPANET adopted the TCP/IP protocol the modern internet is built upon.

In 1989, a British computer scientist working at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland created what has come to be called the World Wide Web. The next year, Sir Tim Berners-Lee built the Web’s first website ushering in the age of Web1.

Web1 is characterized by static websites designed to convey information. These websites were connected by hyperlinks allowing internet travelers to navigate between the pages. There was no ability to interact with the web pages themselves because the idea was simply to publish information that could be accessed from anywhere in the world by any computer on the network. It was revolutionary for its time.

O’Reilly Media cites the dot-com bubble of the early 2000s as the turning point for the Web and the advent of Web 2.0. However, attempting to define Web 2.0, CEO Tim O’Reilly muddles through five pages of philosophy. Simply put, Web2 is the interactive Web.

Web2 gave us Gmail, Facebook, BitTorrent, YouTube, and a host of peer-to-peer tools. Web1 was dominated by Microsoft and Netscape. Web2 is dominated by FAANG (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google). It is interactive and peer-to-peer.

What is Web3 and Will It Kill Web2?

Web3 is promising to do to Web2 what Web2 did to Web1. Here’s a news flash: All that Web2 did for Web1 is enhance it. It didn’t replace it, kill it, or send it flying into outer space. A close examination of the internet will reveal that there are still millions of static web pages that internet citizens can go to and simply read without interacting with them.

Of course, while that is true, Web2 is where most people spend most of their time.

It took just a few short years before Web2 became the dominant version of the internet. It will likely take a few years longer for Web3 to dominate. When it does, it will not replace Web2. It will simply transform the internet into a better version of itself.

In short, there will always be static web pages on the internet. Web1 will not go away. Nor will Web2. What we can all hope for is that Web3 lives up to its promise to decentralize the internet and expand the opportunities for everyone to have more control over their data, their assets, and their identities. If that happens, who cares if Web1 and Web2 live forever in the shadows of what is to come?