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What Is Web 3.0?

Nadine A. Jack

Nadine A. Jack

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With the evolution of the Metaverse, people are becoming increasingly aware of the ways in which they engage with the internet, and you may be curious to know just how many iterations of the internet exist. 

To explain what Web 3.0 is though, first, we must define what the Internet and World Wide Web are, then we can elaborate on what Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 were. 

If you live in a developed country and have access to the Internet, then chances are that you’ve used it. You may have even thought that the internet and the World Wide Web (or WWW) are one and the same, but they’re not. While the two systems are related and share characteristics, it’s an oversimplification, so think of the Internet as a large house while the WWW is the kitchen in that house. The Internet is a vast system of international networks that are all connected, and the WWW is an available service within that network.

Invented in 1989 by Sir Tim Berners-Lee a computer scientist and former CERN employee, the World Wide Web was conceptualised to provide a more efficient communications system for CERN. However, Berners-Lee instead saw its immense potential for worldwide use, and in 1990, worked with a Belgian computer scientist named Robert Cailliau to create the foundation for what is now known as the World Wide Web.

Many might be surprised to know that the Internet actually predates the World Wide Web. It was first conceptualized by Leonard Kleinrock who published a paper titled “Information Flow in Large Communication Nets” in May of 1961. The following year,  J.C.R. Licklider became the first Director of the then Command and Control Research Unit, now known as the Information Processing Techniques Office or IPTO, and shared his ideas for a ‘galactic’ network. 

Together, these men created a network known as ARPANET.

Cue the Terminator Soundtrack

During the summer of 1968, in a meeting of the Network Working Group led by Elmer Shapiro, at the Stanford Research Institute, visionary attendees Steve Carr, Steve Crocker, Jeff Rulifson, and Ron Stoughton all discussed disruptive solutions to communication problems.

By December 1968, collaborations between innovators and based on the work of Elmer Shapiro, Paul Baran, Thomas Marill,  Lawrence Roberts, and Barry Wessler, resulted in the creation of the Interface Message Processor (or IMP). Subsequently, corporation Bolt Beranek and Newman Inc. won a contract to build the IMP subnetwork.

By July 3rd of 1969, the general public was made aware of the Internet via a press release paid for by the University of California.

Web 1.0 Evolves to Web 3.0 

Lasting from 1989 to 2005, while information could be exchanged, Web 1.0 was passive and users had little to no interaction with it. It was basically a space to get information from static pages. Web 1.0’s language was primarily HTML, HTTP, and URI, and the read-only content could only be understood by human users, as the content was not compatible with learning machines. 

Eventually, Web 2.0 succeeded Web 1.0 and was conceptualized during a brainstorming session between the founder of O’Reilly Media, Tim O’Reilly, and the company Media Live International. O’Reilly is credited with the terms Web 2.0 and ‘open source’.

O’Reilly posited that ― “Web 2.0 is the business revolution in the computer industry caused by the move to the internet as a platform, and an attempt to understand the rules for success on that new platform. Chief among those rules is this. Build applications that harness network effects to get better the more people use them.”

Therefore Web 2.0 encouraged and accommodated more interaction between the user, and in some instances also allowed for machine-compatible content. In simpler terms, Web 2.0 is the internet that you’ve become accustomed to. It’s your favourite social media platform, in addition to dynamic websites that allow users to create content such as blogs. It’s also your fave MMORPG or that addictive app you recently downloaded.

Since 2005 the Internet has continued to evolve and now here we are at its newest reincarnation, Web 3.0.

Enter the Metaverse

A quick Google (2021) search posits that Web 3.0 is “a virtual-reality space in which users can interact with a computer-generated environment and other users.”

But I needed to know more, so after watching this video: https://youtu.be/gElfIo6uw4g.

It was released by Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg in late 2021 and outlined his ambitions for the company. Some takeaways from the video include:

Horizon Home and Worlds

These are virtual residences built by Meta with several models available and the potential for individuals to design and create their own in the future. You’ll also be able to invite friends to share these virtual spaces with you via their avatars. But just how will we actually ‘access’ these homes and worlds though? Well, via our avatars.

Nazare Glasses

Fully-augmented capabilities were the motivating goal when the Nazare glasses were created. Boasting hologram displays, projectors, batteries, radios, custom silicon chips, cameras, speakers, sensors to map the world around each user and more (Phew!) Now you can plan a virtual game night and cheat in AR just like you do in the real world when playing with your friends.

Hybrid

Meta’s remote-work enhancement platform proposes accessibility to your virtual workspace from anywhere in the world. The concept claims that you’ll still have a “sense of presence and a shared physical space” with opportunities to interact daily in real time with your associates. Login will be via the Quest platform, and you won’t need to use your personal social media login credentials.

Presence

This platform is a “broad range of machine perception and AI capabilities” that empowers developers to build mixed reality experiences on Meta’s Quest 2 platform. Presence promises to increase realistic presence in the Metaverse, as “this is key to people feeling connected”.

Project Cambria

This advanced VR headpiece will be compatible with both Quest iterations and intends to give users’ avatars more life-like and real-time expressions whenever they’re in an immersive VR world. One additional bonus of Cambria is that it will afford the user the ability to interact with both VR and the real physical world simultaneously.

This product will be at a high price point though, so accessibility to all its features, initially won’t be attainable by everyone. This move is ironic, especially since one of the main points of Cambria is to promote inclusivity and representation in avatars by reflecting the various skin tones and features that humans possess.

The End?

In conclusion, the general premise of the Metaverse is that it provides some escapism. The ongoing pandemic has limited how we physically interact with others, plus there’s a heightened air of anxiety and stress. Being able to reinvent yourself in another ‘world’ while meeting friends old and new, and providing and finding entertainment are all attractive features. 

However you feel about it, it proposes an alternative to our current reality, which if we’re being honest, on most days just seems to be getting weirder, so having options is always a good thing, right? 

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