Evolution of the Web

A client of mine has asked for a description of Web 3.0, which I have kept an eye on, but from a distance, as I didn’t want to be distracted too much by the media hype machine. As I dig deeper into it, I’ve created a Web3.0 tag on Delicious and will continue to add to this. So far I’ve found a couple of good resources. My initial distillation of “Web x.0 in a nutshell” follows.

Description: Web 1.0: Universal Content, Read Only

What it Did: Basic Infrastructure of the Web, which is still in use

Prototypical Technology: HyperTextMarkupLanguage, UniversalResourceIdentifier

Examples: Websites

Description: Web 2.0: Universal Participation, Read/Write

What it Does: Mostly social innovations, as we learn how to use the Web to communicate

Prototypical Technology: ReallySimpleSyndication, AsynchronousJavascriptAndXml

Examples: Blogs, social networks

Description: Web 3.0: Universal Meaning, Contextual

What it will do: Mostly technological innovations as the Web learns (AKA Semantic Web) but more human

Prototypical Technology: ResourceDescriptionFramework, OWL-WebOntologyLanguage

Examples: Wolfram Alpha, Augmented Reality

semantic web
Semantic Web Rubik’s Cube by Duncan Hill

7 Responses to “Evolution of the Web”

  1. Mathieu Plourde

    Nice overview, Harold. I would add to the web 3.0 category audio and visual indexation and search. As more content is now multimedia, searching should go beyond written text. It could also include the Internet of stuff/geo-location: barcodes, QR codes, RFID.

  2. Jason Bates

    Interesting post, thanks for your insights!

    Without reading your article first I would have agreed with your web 1.0 view… brochure websites were where it was at. Printed information ported to browsers.

    Web 2.0 for me was all about interactivity. We went from brochures to applications and API’s. From individual users interacting with individual applications to interacting with each other and multiple browser based applicaitons in real-ish time.

    Web 3.0 for me is ubiquity… checking on facebook from my mobile phone, watching youtube from my TV, having google track my real world location, and automatically uploading my geotagged photo’s from my SLR to Flickr, Facebook, and my home PC.

    Looking back at your article, I think that we agree, we’re just using different words.

  3. Aaron


    I think Jason’s comment above comes closer to how I think about 3.0: ubiquity.

    The model you present, Wolfram Alpha, is another form of content. You ask a question, you get an answer. It’s not a human answering you — it’s a human-readable answer. WA is more like AI than anything else — a series of algorithms that translate your human language query so that you get the result from ultimately a database. To me, while maybe it’s a bridge to something bigger, WA is still kinda 1.0.

    The idea from my perspective is that when I turn geo-tagging on in Twitter, that “location” variable it updates means the same thing in Google Latitude, which is automatically updated no matter if I update it in Twitter or take a picture with geospatial information — and it updates all the services I belong to — that idea, notionally, is 3.0. At that point, the internet is no longer wrapping us around the content, but the converse — it’s wrapping the content around us. My friends exist beyond Facebook or Twitter or even our own blogs — we’re simply friends, recognized no matter what playground we choose to play on.

    We can kinda do this now, but the effort and ultimately cost of maintaining and managing presence on all these different services is not that unlike the amount of effort it takes to manage LMSs that aren’t linked to other enterprise products — and go a step further — the amount of effort it would take to migrate an employee’s learning data from one company to another (let alone a student’s transcripts from one school system to another).

    The persistence and ubiquity of “you” is 3.0.

  4. Jouko Ahvenainen

    Personalization and usability are important for end-users in web 3.0. But we actually work hard to understand its opportunities for advertising. It definitely offers much more than “keywords only” targeting. I think one important thing is to keep it simple enough, i.e. a application or topic related semantic first, not to try to organize everything at once.

  5. Rodney

    Web 2.0’s are already extremely user friendly. It makes me wonder how user friendly web 3.0’s will be. On top of that, I’m interested to see how they will work. Via webcam or some sort of hologram? I don’t know. Sounds futuristic is what I’m trying to say.


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