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The Evolution of the Internet

Updated: Dec 16, 2023

Recall the websites from the 1990s, characterized by scrolling titles and seemingly endless amounts of unformatted text? While it is undeniable that websites have visibly changed over the years, this article focuses more on the logical and technical changes, some of which are not easily seen on the surface. This article will cover what Web 3.0 is and what came before it.



The Early Days of the Internet

While you might have a hard time making your kids believe this, many of us remember a time when the internet was a new thing, called a fad by many, and did not have the tremendous impact on our everyday lives. This was Web 1.0, and the concept was that each website on the internet was in charge of its own presence, with full control over the data collected from each site visitor.


While owning and operating your own server was not a requirement, every website was decentralized from any other, and traffic was mostly obtained directly from visitors typing in the address. The challenge was that we couldn't know the addresses of websites we hadn't yet discovered. AOL knew this and was a pioneer in attempting to curate portions of the internet according to what a user desired in the form of AOL keywords. Remember those commercials that told you the keyword to enter in order to get to their website? If you don't, then it might be surprising to realize that the main portal to the internet was no more than a box where you put in a keyword and would automatically redirect you to the most logical choice of a website according to the entered keyword. Much like Google's 'I'm Feeling Lucky' button.


Turns out, however, that people got a bit more skilled in navigating the internet due to more and more interface standards being developed, which led the way for search engine websites like we know today to come into the scene. Like today, a user could choose the search engine they wanted, which would in turn give them a list of websites that match the given keyword. This still-centralized form of aggregated data proved very useful -- and very valuable -- and was a contributing factor for the internet's first evolution.


For the most part, the majority of all websites we interact with today are still Web 1.0, but that does not mean that it is without its faults. Looking for a good plumber in your area? Nothing is stopping a person overseas from making a website that lists on search engines and looks like a plumber's site but is secretly executing malware each time you visit it. Looks like AOL was more ahead of its time than we realize since it was not too long before Internet users desired a trusted interface to safely connect to sites they are looking for.



The Social Media Explosion

Web 2.0 emerged before many realized its potential, driven by our collective, yet unspoken, desire to connect with the world on a personal level. Myspace.com skyrocketed from obscurity to popularity almost overnight by offering everyone in the world a free place to make a 'profile' of personal information that others could see and interact with.


Although Myspace did it first, Facebook did it better, and much, much bigger. Before Web 2.0, the only way to have an online presence was to have a website. But today, there are millions of businesses that have social media pages without actual websites. While there are many reasons to have a website over just a social media presence, the practice is common today for contractors and part-time side hustles. Remember the example of the fake plumber? When all pages are centralized on one website, that website has complete control over the code being executed. Our trusted source to connect us to all has finally arrived, right? Maybe not.


Instead of designing, developing, and maintaining a website, a business owner can just start a new social media page and begin to see results almost immediately. Less work and free engagement, so where's the catch? Turns out, it isn't exactly less work as it is different work. Once your page is online, someone needs to generate content and create engaging posts, including responding to those who are interested. If you dont respond fast enough or dont post content regularly, then the opaque algorithim showing searchers results might return another person's page over yours. Free isn't necessarily the case either, considering paying for/sponsoring posts to get more engagement is something many businesses relying on social media have found to be essential.



But What About My Data and Why Should I Even Care?

It would be great to live in a world where everyone who finds your website or webpage immediately buys your product or calls your phone. Unfortunately, that is not even close to the reality we must face, so knowing why a sale did not happen is essential in order to better ensure the next one does happen. That is where data comes in. It is essential to analyze data from a site visit in order to understand needed areas of improvement and if your target audience is your actual audience. This information is obtained through click-through metrics, bounce rates, session durations, regional analytics, and more.


Now, multiply that by 100 times and you are beginning to get into the scope of data collected, analyzed, and sold by social media platforms. While this does not need to sound like an Orwellian tale of caution to everyone, it should make us all aware that we only see a tiny portion of that very valuable data, and we own none of it. Instead, the data is put to most effective use by the platform that owns it, and we all trust (or hope) that they make morally-sound decisions with that data.



This is Where Web 3.0 Comes In

Originally designed for cryptocurrencies, blockchain technology aims to provide all the benefits of a trusted authority without the downsides like lack of transparency or legal ownership issues. Imagine instead of one massive server farm at 1 Hacker Way, Menlo Park, CA (That's Facebook's real address, by the way), that there are instead 100 servers all across the country, each verifying the work of each other server in order to maintain data accuracy while also providing decentralized infrastructure that cannot be used to secretly store troves of data with.

Web 3.0 has been in existence for 15 years as of this writing, yet it remains in its infancy. Over time, this will evolve into a way to not only send payment digitally but also work estimates, site surveys, analysis reports, legal documents, and much more.



How Does This Apply to Dirty Work Software?


While the difference between Web 1.0 and Web 3.0 is both logical and technical, it's the logical differences that matter here, and the Web 3.0 approach is one we hold close to our heart.

No one should own your data - not even us, especially not just because we published it on the Internet for you. You should not have to learn Legalese just to be informed on how we are going to do business with you. Your data should be collected and analyzed for your benefit, not to the benefit anyone else, and especially not to the benefit of the platforms determining your relevant visibility to others.


We would be eager to help you and your team navigate what the internet is today so that you can flourish in what it will become tomorrow. Many industires are ripe for efficieny gains from better implementation of software and technology. We have learned from experience that Software can do what paper does better, but only if it comes with the proper support and enforcement.


Dirty Work Software specializes in Web 1.0 development and Web 2.0 services like blog writing and social media management. Contact us for more info on how we can turn paper into process without taking up more of your time or money.


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