In a Google Search Off The Record podcast, Googlers Alan Kent, Gary Illyes, and Martin Splitt all discussed web 3.0 and what’s happening to the web overall.
Gary explained they are doing something a little bit different on the podcast today – they are going to discuss their own thoughts on web 3.0, rather than discussing what Google’s official position on web 3.0 is.
Gary said that creating a website is easier than ever. You can choose your own adventure and use a CMS like WordPress or GitHub Pages. If you’re more tech savvy, you can set up your own server. Servers are really, really cheap these days. Cloud platforms have free tiers that get you started for free.
Martin said that you can publish to a distributed storage with IPFS. He doesn’t know how exactly publishing would look like, but as far as he knows, publishing and IPFS looks pretty much like uploading to a web space.
The Rise of Web 2.0
Martin said that he first started working on a website that was for a company in town and that there was no interaction with it. He also said that it was just reading and leaving. Martin said that it was like broadcast media in the sense that you couldn’t really interact with it. Gary then said that web two would be more read and write in the sense that you as a user could leave a comment or you could even create your own content.
Alan said that the era of the rise of WordPress and other similar CMS is where people could see comments and likes, that was an obvious first one, but then be able to write your own blog. He said that it was pretty radical at the time. Martin said that a bunch of hosted services came about where you didn’t need web space or a web server. He said that then life journal, Google blocks, and other services came about where people could just sign up with their email address or password and start writing What You See Is What You Get fashion.
Alan said that the next generation started to become the social platforms where people could publish something and not have to worry about people finding them because they were on a social platform. He said that the difference is that there is a built-in audience and distribution mechanism with the platforms.
Alan said that frequently, the platforms would also solve a monetization problem by showing ads and giving creators of content a cut of that revenue.
Gary said that these platforms were also good for small businesses who didn’t want to deal with setting up a server or deploying a WordPress installation.
He said that they could just go to a platform like WordPress.com and sign up for a free account and have their website with one click. Martin said that these platforms made it a lot more accessible for people to create content.
The Rise of Video
Gary said, “Yeah. If you think of media like video, I mean, it’s not easy to host video and do a good job. And there’s lots of bandwidth issues and lots of storage issues.”
Martin said, “It’s actually a frickin nightmare. Yeah, like to host video, because like hosting images is kind of easy, because you have, let’s say, like, up to 1.5 megabyte image, let’s say that’s your limit on the image hoster. But with videos, you have to keep connections open for a very long time, usually, unless you split it, or you have to multiplex the video, for whatever reason. It’s actually very, very complicated.”
Alan said, “I think also, and it’s possibly towards, I don’t know if it’s–call it towards the end. But the other aspect of the monetization sort of stuff is people started to do things like, Well, how do I get paid other than just doing ads, and you started getting into Merchandising, and tipping and Patreon sites and Kickstarter projects, and so forth.”
China: Late to the Game
Gary said, “To me, it was always been interesting, comparing also to China, because China really sort of came late to the game, I think, for the internet for the mass, per thing. But it started on mobile. And so getting ads on your page is a much worse experience than a mobile device.”
Alan said, “And so there’s actually a lot of interesting innovation, it’s actually come out of China. And the whole area of monetization, if you look into it, because they couldn’t rely on ads as being the primary source of revenue for these platforms.”
Martin said, “Yeah, I mean, that’s something that we’ve talked about a lot actually, is just the different ways that you can monetize content. And it’s definitely something that we’ve seen a lot of innovation in China around.”
Alan said, “Absolutely. Yeah. I think one of the things, if you look back at the early days of YouTube and some of the other platforms in the west, it was very much ads, ads, ads, as being the primary way to monetize the platform. Whereas in China, they had to come up with all sorts of other creative ways to do it.”
Gary said,”Yeah, definitely. I think we’re seeing that now with a lot of these platforms as well. They’re starting to experiment with different ways of monetizing their content, beyond just advertising.”
Web 3.0 Overall
Overall, Gary, Alan, and Martin all agree that the rise of web 2.0 and platforms like WordPress have made it much easier for people to create and distribute content. They also agree that these platforms have solved a number of problems related to monetization and website hosting/deployment. However, they do not discuss any negative aspects of these platforms nor do they mention any potential problems that could arise from continued use of these platforms.