I am attending Internet World these days at Earls Court London (24-26 Apr 2012) and they are celebrating their 20th birthday which makes us all wonder how long has it been since we have been using the Internet? One topic that keeps emerging at similar exhibitions is, which era of the Web are we in ? which explains the terms Web 1.0, Web 2.0, and so to speak Web 3.0.
For those of you who are not familiar with the concepts, they are all related to the level of interaction the web allowed as it evolved from the 1st generation to the 3rd. It is not a simple equation as in Web 3.0 is equal to the sum of the first two. It is more about how all three generations actually combine to represent the era. Which explains why one might find different people talking about Web 3.0 from different angles and why the introduction of technologies to the Internet and the Web is how many define the era we are in.
Web 1.0 to Web 2.0
In a nutshell, Web 1.0 was about pushing information to the Internet. Web 2.0 was about users contributions through social channels and content blogs. But it was also about the technologies that evolved alongside as well, the use of mobile, the ability to connect from different devices, the evolution of data, and the expansion of the network in additional to the growth in speed and bandwidth, also contributed to the era.
So what about Web 3.0
The Web 3.0, as discussed at the London exhibition, seems to describe an era when users are contributing seamlessly pushing more data towards the Web through multiple channels without being conscious to the act of interactive usage.
A nice example is how many tend to use the location services and the GPS installed on most smart phones and average modern cars. With the location services, we are actually providing insights and data back to online servers about our location and travel patterns that feed into a large number of web sites that provide stats that represent the key data companies need to target customers through radio channels, on the road display ads, if anyone is still using those, and most importantly email communication that is relevant to users’ destinations.
Another aspect to Web 3.0 was how more web sites are now aware and actually have adapted semantics across their web pages to make it more machine readable by adding attributes and item tags to describe the content.
Again, Semantic Search within a Semantic Web
My first encounter with the Semantic Web concept was back in 2006-2007 when I have read (The World is Flat) by Thomas Friedman and actually had to write an essay about it. What I find surprising is the fact that for such a vital piece of technology, it had a very slow growth rate. It materialisd and continued to evolve across the past two generations of the web and became a strategic identifier of this one, Web 3.0, and might even drive the next generation.
Semantic search was addressed at Internet World as the way to move forward by using the ontology or textonomy that major search engines have agreed to follow as a standard across for search. Schema.org was selected by those search giants after W3C.org has failed to move beyond the infrastructure they have built for the Semantic Web. Using www.schema.org means that web pages can use a standard to identify content in a way that only humans can. For web users this means information searched for would be more accessible and better defined than before. So for example, when we try to find movies, we also get subsequent data around that movie as in the actors, the director, and related movies under the same category. If you are reading this and thinking we already have that in sites like www.imdb.com; you are right. IMDB.com is one of the adaptors of semantic web and this has enabled them to extend their content across multiple devices like mobile apps, tablets, and desktop computers with little overhead.
Web 3.0, the bottom line
So in summary; Web 3.0 is about more semantic web adapters and better results for users. It is about a technology that presents itself so that users think less about and feel more comfortable with to make it work for them as well as work for the companies and network operators who run the Web and give back to those users the same way users give back and even more.