How we got to Web 3.0 and where it’s headed next

By Vanessa Malone

Web 3.0 is the next version of the internet characterized by decentralized applications, user-owned data, and highly personalized user experiences putting end users back in the driver’s seat.

To get a grasp on Web 3.0, it’s helpful to start with the first iterations of the Web and see how they led to where we are today.

Web 1.0

Web 1.0 represents the first phase of the web taking place roughly between 1990 and 2000. It is referred to as the read-only web, where internet users were limited to viewing static information placed by content creators. 

There was no way to engage with the information online through sharing, commentary or retweets. Instead, users just passively consumed information from centralized sources. Ads while browsing the internet were even banned at the time!

Web 2.0

Exactly where Web 1.0 ends and Web 2.0 begins isn’t clear but it’s the version of the internet we know and love today. Web 2.0 introduced avenues for users to interact not just with the entities providing them content, but to also add and share their own content.

Web 2.0 became known as the Social Web with the rise of Facebook, Instagram, and Google giving users and brands a platform to share opinions and services freely around the world. This new age of information sharing brought the number of internet users from 738 million in 2000 to 3.2 billion in 2015, 43% of the global population!¹ 

These users brought with them unprecedented amounts of personal data which companies began recognizing as a new and valuable asset to harvest on their centralized servers. Soon, browsing habits, internet identities and more personal data was being sold without explicit permission or understanding from the general public. 

Web 3.0

While people have shown a willingness to give up data or security for convenience; the rise of financial loss, identity theft, and misuse of personal data has started a bigger conversation for how to take control out of tech behemoths’ hands.

Web 3.0 is the next iteration of the internet that focuses on bringing control to the end user through machine learning and decentralization.

Known as a semantic web, Web 3.0 works to expand AI and machine learning capabilities to generate more personalized content that addresses user needs. Rather than searching for content through keywords, machines would work to understand, interpret and display information in a more human-like way.

Web 3.0 is also used to describe the shift to an open and decentralized web architecture. The technology at the center of Web 3.0 is of course blockchain technology which has proven its ability to store data transparently and immutably in a way that’s verifiable by the masses.

It’s an evolution from web forms, to web applications managed by people, to smart applications managed by technology. Users transact and maintain control of their assets and data rather than trusting centralized entities to do so on their behalf. 

For example, a Web 3.0 browser would protect users’ data through encryption but could give them the option of getting paid to share personal details.

Where we’re at

Web 3.0 is still in infancy, especially when it comes to the decentralized applications that will form it. Centralized entities still hold the power across major sectors of the internet surrounding browsing, storage, social media, messaging, banking, and trading. Interestingly, even the majority of today’s cryptocurrency exchanges are centralized despite decentralization being a core value of the blockchain community. 

There are many reasons why, but centralized applications have typically been more userfriendly. And as we discovered in Web 2.0, users are still willing to give up privacy and security for convenience. However, once decentralized apps get to a more userfriendly state, we believe there will be a welcomed transition. Especially when users experience similar convenience without the issues relating to data leaks, hacks, or a lack of transparency.

Upstream as a use case for Web 3.0 decentralized trading

Horizon has built decentralized exchange technology to usher in the next generation of securities trading.

Upstream, a MERJ Exchange Market, is a next generation exchange and trading app for digital securities. It’s also the first national exchange to be built on an Ethereum blockchain. The app-based marketplace facilitates real-time trading and instant settlement of unique asset classes — such as tokenized IPOs, NFTs, music royalty rights, feature films, celebrity ventures, crowdfunded companies, equities, compliant security tokens and more. 

Users have direct access to the Upstream Web 3.0 exchange and experience best bids and offers transparently displayed and executed on a public orderbook to maintain a fair and accessible market. Investors of all levels can buy, sell, and settle securities directly from the Upstream trading app.

Instead of relying on Upstream to complete a transaction, digital contracts automatically execute transactions person to person once the established parameters are met. Upstream, like Web 3.0, is ‘non-custodial’ so the individual maintains complete control of their assets’ movement using blockchain. All transactions are biometrically verified and cryptographically signed using Ethereum, adding increased investor protection from dangerous hacks. Using Web 3.0, we empower the investor to manage their securities as simply as they would manage their bank accounts and other payment applications. 

Concluding thoughts

Web 3.0 is still in progress across all facets of our digital lives but we can expect a more personalized internet experience with applications that put ownership and control back in the hands of the end user.

As a blockchain technology company, we are thrilled to be at the front lines of this evolution by introducing technology to empower the masses.

Visit or reach our team at

About Upstream

Upstream, a MERJ Exchange Market, is a fully regulated global stock exchange for digital securities. Powered by Horizon’s proprietary matching engine technology, the exchange enables investors to trade shares in IPOs, crowdfunded companies, U.S. and international dual listed equities, SPACs and celebrity ventures directly from the app Interested issuers can reach the team at

About Horizon

Horizon is a fintech company that builds and powers global securities exchanges with an integrated suite of software for compliant issuance, management, and secondary trading of securities. Their in-house solutions combine Wall Street and Silicon Valley to power the next generation of securities offerings and trading in the U.S. and globally. Learn more at

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