The web has come a long way since its inception in 1989. From Web1 to Web2 to the current transition to Web3 – the internet has seen many changes. In this article, we will explore Web2.
The second generation of the web, #Web2 or the #Socialweb, is when the internet started to become more interactive. Web applications are no longer just about consuming information – they now allow users to interact with each other and create new content. This shift has given rise to a whole host of new platforms and services that became “data aggregators”.
The data aggregators replaced #web1 protocols with their easy-to-use and often free software that enabled non-technical users to leverage the web, and in the process, these organizations aggregated a massive amount of user data for monetization.
Benefits of Web2
Web2 and these aggregators really improved the web experience for users in several ways:
- Ease of use – the most impactful was the more intuitive and largely frictionless experience of being able to leverage the web, without having to be a coding expert. Creating social media accounts is one of the best examples of being able to create your own page and space, connect with your network and share information with one another.
- Convenience – the experience has become super convenient, we can link our experiences and apps, our “feeds” into integrated experiences. For example, we can now set up a stock account to buy fractional shares of companies and link these purchases directly to our bank accounts. Or we can use Twitter to consolidate all our news feed and interests in to one space.
- Customized – As these platforms now have our data, and understand our preferences, moods and decision-making processes they are able to customize our experiences. Hulu/YouTube can recommend what shows I will likely want to consume and Amazon can tell me what home products are likely running out and need to be purchased soon.
- Utility – Through the rise of the Web2 era, companies have found the niche gaps and opportunities to add utility to our lives whether through social media, shopping, entertainment, banking and more.
With value creation came some challenges and risks that it is important to be aware of:
- Centralized Reliance & Reduced Transparency – From the early 2000s onwards through enhancements in technology and greater access to personalized computers and the internet the number on online users skyrocketed. With that the adoption of several of the leading Web 2 players; Google, Facebook, Youtube, Amazon etc. This led to the data of billions of users being aggregated by a handful of companies and in turn, siloed and centralized – data became the currency – whoever owns the data wins.
- Reliability and Security – The centralization of data and power can lead to data breaches, security issues or just reliability challenges. Centralized systems often create a single point of failure and a single decision point, see power and control next.
- Power & Control – As a result of the centralization of data to several leading companies, this provides them with so much power that is very hard to manage. For instance, the leading Web2 companies can really at any time:
- Algorithmic changes – The ability to change how algorithms work to influence outcomes. We have all seen this with the platforms we use – LinkedIn, Instagram and more – why does one article/post hit vs another – is it the polarizing content, community engagement, time of day – it changes and we don’t have control over it and individuals/businesses have to learn to play the game, figure out the latest needs and adapt for a period of time.
- Freedom/independence – Remove your access and your ability to be a contributor – President Trump being a prime example of someone who was cut off from some of the major global platforms. But we all know someone who has been randomly blacklisted, at least temporarily for a variety of reasons with it being very hard to get your account back. Guidelines and rules are often arbitrary and random and can be changed.
- Business models – Due to the popularity of these platforms and minimal competition it is very easy for the aggregators to set the terms and change them on the fly. The only protest mechanism is to go elsewhere, but there are limited “elsewheres” as all our data, contacts, history and more is with the platform we use and they have a dominant position, limiting incoming competition (especially when they can also snap up any favorable incomer).
You can see how we as users very quickly, once we have adopted such technologies and platforms, built our profiles, interact with our networks, build their use into our lives and share our data can very quickly lose control.
Final Thoughts On Web2
Web2 has been incredible, has created a huge amount of value, utility and improvements in our lives but with that, we have also become the product and are not the ones in control.
Now we understand the basis of Web2 in the next blog we will explore where we are at today with the #energytransition and its synergies to Web2.
VECKTA is leading the way by supporting businesses globally to simplify and accelerate the energy transition (and into a Web3 world!). Why not join us on this journey and we can help you take control of your energy, and make the switch to a cleaner, more sustainable and profitable energy future?