• Predictions about Web 2.0 were deeply flawed
  • Current predictions about Web 3.0 are probably just as flawed
  • We don’t know what this tech will be used for
  • Web 2.0 isn’t going anywhere. Web 1.0-style pages (like this one) are still around, after all!

I just completed my final for a college class, and it asked me to look at Web 3.0 trends and make some predictions. After reading up on a lot of Web 3.0 stuff and looking back at the history of Web 2.0, I came to the following conclusion:

Everybody has got Web 3.0 all wrong!

Please, allow me to explain

A quick history lesson

My assignment had me look at a piece of internet history known as the Cluetrain Manifesto. That webpage (later turned into a book) was written by a handful of men who had some very opinionated ideas about the future of the internet. Feel free to read through it, since it’s all available online, but I’ll summarize some of their thoughts:

1) “The man” is keeping the little guy down. Web 2.0 is going to fix that! 2) Big business is trying to squeeze money out of the web. Web 2.0 will make sure the individual is the one making money! 3) Companies don’t talk to us like people, but the internet will force them to be more human!

According to the Cluetrain Manifesto, the future was going to be all sunshine and rainbows. We’d be able to speak out minds, make money, and be treated like people, and there would be absolutely no downside at all! There are some pretty obvious problems with the things they specifically said would happen, such as:

1) Yeah, the internet circumvents censorship. It also lets conspiracy theorists post misinformation, helps pedophiles form support groups, and enables the doxxing and harassment of people offline. 2) Sure, some individuals make money on the internet. They do that on the backs of giant companies. Influencers shill their products, free websites are powered by their ads, and our personal information is bought and sold on a massive scale without us seeing a dime. 3) While some companies try to talk to Fellow Kids™ online, individuals have adopted communication more like corporations. We pick and choose what we share online and try to present our best selves, resulting in psychological harm to ourselves and others.

Web 3.0, aka Web 2.0 2.0

Go watch any YouTube video about Web 3.0 or read any Medium article about it. You’ll very quickly notice that, according to the proponents of Web 3.0, all our troubles will soon be solved thanks to new technology. They claim that blockchain will allow us to break free of social media platforms and speak out minds, monetize our works by tokenizing them, and wrest control from the oppressive big companies.

Sound familiar?

Like the guys who wrote a manifesto over 20 years ago, these people think Web 3.0 will solve all our problems. They also don’t seem to think it will cause any problems of its own. Criminals using BitCoin? No way, people blow that out of proportion! Losing all your NFT’s because you forgot a password and there’s no central entity to recover it? I’m sure that won’t happen often! And there’s no telling what other harm may come, because it’s all too new. In fact…

Nobody knows what the future holds

I think there will be a cool use for all this new technology, but I don’t think we’ve found it yet. If you look at how the Cluetrain Manifesto describes the future, you’ll see that they’re basically describing communication as it was in 1999, but MORE! They didn’t know that dynamic web pages would allow for endlessly scrolling social media, that high quality cameras on phones would allow anybody to create content, that AI would allow everybody to look like a dog in their photos, or that WebGL would allow a rich ecosystem of indie games on sites like The new tech hadn’t been around long enough for these great ideas to come up, and it turns out the future is hard to predict.

Similarly, I think all the Web 3.0 fancy schmancy stuff will result in something really cool. I don’t think it’s going to be “Facebook… but with cryptocurrency!” or “YouTube, but your videos are NFTs!” or anything like that. The average internet user has no use for these things in their current state, just like most people weren’t on internet forums in the 1990’s. Nowadays, everybody and their grandma is on Facebook. Somewhere, somebody is working on something using Web 3.0 tech that will become an ubiquitous part of every day life. What is that thing?

Nobody knows!

Web 2.0 isn’t obsolete

No matter what that cool thing is, it isn’t going to be a 1-to-1 replacement for what’s around right now. How can I be so sure? Web 1.0 was the age of the static web. HTML was just markup - it arranged things and applied styles and that’s it. Nothing changed, nothing was dynamic. Web 2.0 changed that.

But static webpages didn’t go away. You’re reading one right now. I don’t need this page to be dynamic. I also don’t need it to use blockchain. No amount of Web 3.0 adoption is going to change that. New technology will add to the internet ecosystem and, yes, some things will likely fall by the wayside, but others will persist. Intelligent humans exist alongside the same dumb microorganisms that have been around for billions of years - survival of the fittest doesn’t mean absolute replacement of old with new.


New technology is exciting. I can’t wait to see the internet is like in 20 years. But 20 years ago, I never could have predicted what today’s internet is like. I’m not going to bother making predictions, I’ll just wait and see what excitement comes with new technology. I’ll also keep an eye out for the new harm that the new technology will bring - hopefully we’ve learned our lessons from the past, but I honestly doubt it.



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