Web3 vs Web2: What's the difference?

By Onose Enaholo

What Are Web 2.0 and Web 3.0?

Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 refer to successive iterations of the web, compared with the original Web 1.0 of the 1990s and early 2000s. Web 2.0 is the current version of the internet (a term often used interchangeably with the web) with which we are all familiar.

Web 3.0 or Web3 is the third generation of the World Wide Web. Currently a work in progress, it is a vision of a decentralized and open Web with greater utility for its users.

Web refers to the World Wide Web (WWW), the internet’s core information retrieval system. The WWW initialism used to (and often still does) preface a web address and was one of the first characters typed into a web browser when searching for a specific resource online.

Internet pioneer Tim Berners-Lee is credited with coining the term World Wide Web to refer to the global web of information and resources interconnected through hypertext links.


  • Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 represent successive, advanced iterations of the original Web 1.0 of the 1990s and early 2000s. Web 2.0 is the current version of the web with which we are all familiar, while Web 3.0 represents its next phase, which will be decentralized, open, and of greater utility.
  • Innovations such as smartphones, mobile internet access, and social networks have driven the exponential growth of Web 2.0.
  • Web 2.0 has disrupted sectors that fail to integrate the new web-based business model.
  • Defining features of Web 3.0 include decentralization; trustlessness and permissionlessness; artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning; and connectivity and ubiquity.

What is the difference between Web2 & Web3?

Aspect of protocol Web 2.0 Web3
Business model Digital giants and service providers own customer data, which is used to earn revenue. The blockchain network pays transaction validators for their work.

Game theory is employed to maintain transaction integrity.

User participation models Free services in exchange for user data

Payments made to intermediaries for running services and software

Users own their data and content, and can monetize it.

Payments made directly to blockchain transaction validators

Trust model Centralized services, servers and software

Trust the companies behind them.

Decentralized; peer-to-peer; no central authority; no single point of failure

Trust is minimized — trust the decentralized protocol.

Governance Power consolidated among digital giants Decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs), where governance is distributed to stakeholders (governance token holders)
User authentication methods User IDs


Other authentication

Private key that unlocks access to owner’s records on a blockchain; the private key can be in a self-hosted wallet or a third-party wallet.
Content Dynamic, user-generated

Source content can be duplicated.

User-owned and uncoupled from Web 2.0 services
User interfaces Web

Social networks

Mobile apps

Decentralized apps (dApps)

Centralized marketplaces or services

Financial system Centrally managed by central banks and other financial institutions and networks Run by smart contracts (basically “if, then else” scripts) and blockchain protocols

There is no centralized control and there are no intermediaries to pay.

Currency Centrally managed, government-backed currency (e.g., currency managed by a bank or a stored-value account provider) Cryptocurrency built into decentralized blockchain

Users act as their own bank, but can delegate to a centralized exchange.


What are the Features of Web2?

The top features of Web 2.0 permit users to classify collectively and catch up with dynamic information that flows between the site user and site owner through comments, evaluation, and reviews.

Let’s check out more features of Web 2.0:


It’s a web phase that doesn’t stick to the current framework of classification; it permits users to make free arrangement/classification of information, which is social tagging.

Example – Flick

Rich User Experience

Web 2.0 uses HTML5 (for interactive video and audio), presenting dynamic, Ajax (Asynchronous JavaScript + XML), and rich user experience to users. Such technologies offer webmasters the caliber to insert dynamic video directly into HTML code.

Example – Google Maps

Long Tail

In web 2.0, the niche product is not sold straight but offered as a service based on the demand and income generated as pay per consumption and monthly fee.

Example – Google apps

User Participation

In this web phase, the user participates in content sourcing, also known as Crowdsourcing.

Example – YouTube


The content delivery utilizes various channels, including permalinks and file sharing.

Example – Mashup

Basic Trust

The content is available to reuse, share, edit, and redistribute.

Example – Wikipedia.

Defining Features of Web 3.0

Let’s discuss the main features of Web 3.0:

Artificial Intelligence

In Web 3.0, blending this caliber with natural language processing (NLP), computers can understand details like humans do to offer more relevant and faster outcomes. They become smarter to meet the users’ needs.


With this web phase, information is more connected, and the credit goes to semantic metadata. Resultantly, the user experience emerges to another level of connectivity that utilizes all the available details.

Semantic Web

Web3 includes the Semantic Web, which enhances web technologies to generate, share, and link content through analysis and search as per the potential to understand what the words are meant to be, despite the number or keywords.


Multiple apps access content, web and devices are connected, one can use services everywhere.

3D Graphics

In web 3.0, the websites and services use 3-dimensional design, for example – eCommerce, computer games, geospatial contexts, museum guides, etc.

Examples of Web 2.0

The examples of Web 2.0 include the below:

  • Hosted services, like Google Maps
  • Video sharing sites, like YouTube
  • Web apps, like Google Docs
  • Blogs, like WordPress,
  • Social networking, like Facebook
  • Wikis, like MediaWiki
  • Microblogging, like Twitter
  • Podcasting, like Podcast Alley
  • Folksonomies, like Delicious
  • Content hosting services, etc.

Examples of Web 3.0

The examples of Web 3.0 include the below:

  • Decentralized protocol, like Bitcoin
  • Decentralized, non-profit social networks, like Diaspora
  • Decentralized exchange trading market, like Augur
  • Blockchain-based social platforms and blogging, like Steemit
  • A marketplace to buy and sell NFTs (built on Ethereum blockchain), like OpenSea
  • Decentralized cryptocurrency exchanges, like Uniswap
  • Decentralized social network (built on Ethereum blockchain), like Sapien
  • Blockchain-based supply chain, authenticity platform, like Everledger

What are the benefits of Web3?

The decentralized structure of Web3 is its primary advantage or value for users. Centralized networks will not be rewarded in the next generation of the internet. A democratic atmosphere where spending is more transparent thanks to public distributed ledgers will be fair and trustworthy.

Corporate corruption will gradually decrease as a result of this. It is fair to say that Web3 has the potential to improve corporate and government operations. However, due to the scale of the shift, it will almost certainly invite criticism.

While decentralization is one of the biggest benefits that Web3 could offer, the other ones include:

More privacy

Web 3.0 will prioritize security and privacy over surveillance and control. Users will have complete control over their data. They have the option of sharing or keeping the information secret.


Due to blockchain technology and its autonomous structure, it will also be safer than prior internet versions. Hackers will find it exceedingly tough to exploit the network, and even if they do, their activities will be logged.

In a decentralized system, hacks are still plausible, although most blockchains have developed defenses against such an occurrence.

Pitfalls of web3 over web2

Web3’s greater openness and decentralization also means it will be harder to filter out harmful content like cybercrime, hate speech, and misinformation.

A decentralized web would also complicate regulation and enforcement—for example, which country’s laws will apply to a website that hosts content in multiple countries around the world?

Web3 is also likely to be slower than web2, because every transaction will have to be processed through the entire P2P network. This requires a huge amount of computing power, and the instantaneous transactions that we have become accustomed to may take far longer.

In fact, these transactions, like making an NFT, require so much power and electricity that “gas fees” may become required for transactions that we now make for free.

Integration with current web browsers could also be slow. The computer chip giant Intel said that we need to achieve about 1,000 times our current computing power in order to make Web3 a reality. In many ways, software innovation has far outstripped hardware innovation.

Many optimists see web3’s nascent stage as full of opportunity, but currently without enough benefits to make a functioning, mainstream internet ecosystem. However, pessimists feel that blockchain technology will be unable to make good on its promises. In fact, Tim Berners-Lee has recently started a competing platform called Solid using standard web tools and open specifications based upon his defined Web 3.0 principles.

Evolution of the web

Web 1

The first version of the internet, also known as Web 1.0, was designed specifically for corporations rather than individuals. Just a few folks understood how to gain proficiency. Most significant firms engaged computer professionals to manage the internet and execute its use to benefit their staff.

It’s worth noting that the users were charged based on the number of pages they visited. Some of the examples of Web 1 are MySpace, Google, LiveJournal, and Yahoo.

In a nutshell, Web 1.0 was a content delivery network (CDN) that allowed users to see static data on websites without having the chance to express their thoughts, opinions, or remarks. It also ushered in the dot-com boom, which ran from 1995 to 2000 and fueled a slew of web firms.


Now we should move on to the next generation of the internet, which is currently in use worldwide. Web 2.0 has revolutionized the web and its allied industries. This web version has made it exceedingly simple for users to collect, generate, and distribute huge amounts of data with just one click.

Hundreds of new apps are introduced to the phone’s app store every day. Also, phones have a built-in camera that produces images that most genuine cameras on the Web 1 could not even imagine a few years ago.

The best feature of Web 2.0 is that it allows users to create content and distribute it on global networks. Social media channels such as Instagram and Facebook and other video streaming applications, blog posting, podcasts, and social bookmarking are all examples of Web 2.0 platforms.

This period is also known for the ease with which music and video snippets are shared.


Web 3.0 represents the next iteration or phase of the evolution of the web/internet and potentially could be as disruptive and represent as big a paradigm shift as Web 2.0 did. Web 3.0 is built upon the core concepts of decentralization, openness, and greater user utility.

Berners-Lee had expounded upon some of these key concepts back in the 1990s, as outlined below:

Decentralization: “No permission is needed from a central authority to post anything on the web, there is no central controlling node, and so no single point of failure…and no ‘kill switch’! This also implies freedom from indiscriminate censorship and surveillance.”

Bottom-up design: “Instead of code being written and controlled by a small group of experts, it was developed in full view of everyone, encouraging maximum participation and experimentation.”

In a 2001 paper, Berners-Lee discussed the concept of what he referred to as the Semantic Web.

Computers have no reliable way to process the semantics of language (i.e., figure out the actual context in which a word or phrase is used). Berners-Lee’s vision for the Semantic Web was to bring structure to the meaningful content of webpages and enable software that would carry out sophisticated tasks for users.

Web 3.0 has moved well beyond the original concept of the Semantic Web as conceptualized by Berners-Lee in 2001. This is partly because it is very expensive and monumentally difficult to convert human language—with all its subtle nuances and variations—into a format that can be readily understood by computers, and because Web 2.0 has already evolved substantially over the past two decades.

Web3 use cases

Existing Web3 applications are limited in enterprises, but public applications are thriving. These include decentralized finance (DeFi), NFTs, play-to-earn games and community-organized decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs). For example:

  • DeFi protocols such as Aave and MakerDAO provide users with lending and borrowing services run by smart contracts, which eliminate intermediaries so as to enable higher yields and returns, albeit with much more risk.
  • Play-to-earn games using NFTs provide a means for users to earn income. Such games have also spawned nonprofit organizations that leverage gaming proceeds to fund scholarships for underprivileged users.
  • Content creators, such as artists, are selling their work using NFT smart contracts that ensure that they — and not intermediaries — are paid based on contract terms that they set themselves whenever, for example, they sell a piece of art.

Examples of Web3 success in well-established industries are sparse, and large enterprises will likely be slow to cede governance, oversight and control of applications they use in conjunction with other digital ecosystem participants in order to move to Web3.

Nevertheless, most organizations will ultimately want to implement applications and processes that benefit from trust-minimized computing and new business models and opportunities that only Web3 promises to enable.

Will Web3 be the new norm?

While Web3 is gaining popularity, it’s still a long ways away from mainstream adoption for many reasons. Here are just a few:

  • Energy resources – We simply don’t have the energy resources to support blockchain technology on a grand scale. One bitcoin transaction consumes the amount of power the typical American home needs for six weeks.
  • Scalability – Transactions are slower on Web3 since data needs to be processed on many computers on the decentralized network instead of just one server. This means you’ll see payment transactions happening at slower rates.
  • Accessibility – Web3 requires special software and education in order to access its peer-to-peer network. It’s lack of integration with modern web browsers means Web3 is inaccessible to most users.

Due to these limitations, you won’t see Web2 going away any time soon. The more likely scenario is Web2 and Web3 will exist in parallel and we can access either networks. This means companies won’t be entirely pivoting to Web3 though they will likely start building dapp products for Web3.