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What is Web 3.0, anyway?

by Angie King on June 24th, 2009

Now that the social media tools that define Web 2.0 have moved into the mainstream—and believe me, it’s mainstream now that our moms are on Facebook—the interactive community has moved on to the next big thing: Web 3.0.

Recently I’ve seen an increase in tweets and blogs about the topic. After trying to follow the conversation, I had to admit to myself I didn’t really know what “web 3.0” meant. So I decided to see what the buzz was all about.

Here’s your crash course in Web 3.0, in case you were wondering, too.

What is Web 3.0?
The first thing you should know is that the definition of Web 3.0 is still a little murky.

Here’s what some people are saying about it:

    • "Web 3.0 is about making the web a more personal web. [It’s] an internet that can anticipate my needs, understand my meaning and even allow me to find information better than ever. " Judy Shapiro, Ad Age

    •  " The core idea behind Web 3.0 is to extract much more meaningful, actionable insight from information. The goal of Web 3.0 is to reorganize information so users can capture what things are and how they are related."  Web 3.0 Conference site

    • "… Web 3.0 is about open and more structured data – which essentially makes the Web more ‘intelligent’. The smarter the data, the more things we can do with it. The current trends we’re seeing today – filtering content, real-time data, personalization – are evidence that ‘Web 3.0′ is upon us, if not yet well defined." Richard MacManus, Read Write Web

Web 3.0 is also sometimes called the semantic web. But sometimes the semantic web is referred to as a component of Web 3.0. Like I said: murky.

Why could  Web 3.0 be awesome?
According to the various definitions out there, we’re on the verge of the BEST INTERWEBS EVER. In a nutshell, it sounds like Web 3.0 aims to be a customized information delivery system that intuitively caters to your every want and need—wherever you are.

Yes, this includes more and better mobile apps. And not just for the iPhone. (Please? Thank you.)

According to the Web 3.0 Conference people, the benefits of Web 3.0 are totally rad:
 

    • This seemingly simple concept will have a profound effect at every level of information consumption, from the individual end user to the enterprise.

    • Web 3.0 technologies make the organization of information radically more fluid and allow for new types of analysis based on things like text semantics, machine learning, and what we call serendipity — the stumbling upon insights based on just having better organized and connected information.


Why might Web 3.0 Suck?

Besides the inherent fear that a “smart” web is the first step to a Terminator-style robot revolution, some valid concerns have been raised about Web 3.0.

Recently, Advertising Age’s Judy Shapiro wrote a blog to express her concerns. Her post “In Web 3.0 We Trust – or Not” explores the need to integrate the human element of trust into the forthcoming “intelligent” web.

She writes that Web 3.0 risks disaster:

"… because as our dependence on the internet grows, a lack of trust will unravel any or all of the marvelous innovations being conceived now.

What good is more linked data when we have no idea which data to trust? Wouldn’t you rather get a product recommendation from a trusted friend than a "paid" digital butler, ah, I mean agent?"
 

Besides wondering whether we can trust the content Web 3.0 serves up, we’ll also struggle with issues of privacy. In order to make the data more customized, Web 3.0 gadgets will need to gather more of our personal information. Which begs the questions:

    • What will they do with our personal information?

    •  Will it be protected?

    • How will we know?


Will we like Web 3.0?

I think that depends, on many factors. And of course it will be heavily influenced by personal choice.

Factors to consider:
 

    • Will the technology deliver what it promises? Gadgets are cool, but only if they work.

    • How will the technology change our lives, in a tangible way? It has to be intuitive and easy-to-use to improve our everyday lives.

    • Can we overcome the feelings of mistrust brought on by an “intelligent” web? We have to be able to trust the content it serves up—and trust that our private information is protected.

    • How does Web 3.0’s focus on technology affect the need for publishing useful, useable content? This last factor is the most important, in my opinion.

Here’s what Rachel Lovinger, Content Strategy Lead at Razorfish, has to say about the influence of Web 3.0 on content:

“The promise is that [Web 3.0 is] going to help make content more readily accessible. So, the call-to-arms for content strategy is a big one. Like my tweet quoting Tom Tague [from his keynote at the Semantic Technology Conference on June 16], there’s a lot of content, not enough information.

Web 3.0 is going to help the good stuff rise to the top, but in order for that to happen, there has to be good stuff.”

Exactly. We need to continue planning for content the same way we’ve always needed to—but with more urgency. But don’t worry. Brain Traffic can help. Just give us a call. (The telephone may be so Web 0.0, but it’ll still work in Web 3.0. Promise.)
 

 

  • http://kaizen-creative.com/ Richard

    I'll like it if people stop calling it “Web 3.0″. It's a constant evolution of technologies and ideas. It's not like we have a subversion repository. What happened to “Web 3.0RC1″ or even “Web 0.9a”?

    Honestly, I've hated the term “Web x.x” ever since O'Reilly popularized it. It has become a buzzword for many internet developers and designers which they all proudly pin on their website “We are Web 2.0″.

    Aside from being an overused buzzword which I can't seem to get away from it does not really describe anything. It's an opinion, and as such does not really define anything. As is highlighted by the section in your post “What is Web 3.0?”, all your references are the opinions of the author.

    Not that my opinion matters in the grander scheme of things, but I feel that a term should be changed to something less generic and more descriptive. Something like (note that this is an example not a suggestion cause I suck at these sort of things) “Intelligent Internet” instead of “Web 3.0″ or “Social Internet” instead of “Web 2.0″.

  • http://kaizen-creative.com/ Richard

    I'll like it if people stop calling it “Web 3.0″. It's a constant evolution of technologies and ideas. It's not like we have a subversion repository. What happened to “Web 3.0RC1″ or even “Web 0.9a”?

    Honestly, I've hated the term “Web x.x” ever since O'Reilly popularized it. It has become a buzzword for many internet developers and designers which they all proudly pin on their website “We are Web 2.0″.

    Aside from being an overused buzzword which I can't seem to get away from it does not really describe anything. It's an opinion, and as such does not really define anything. As is highlighted by the section in your post “What is Web 3.0?”, all your references are the opinions of the author.

    Not that my opinion matters in the grander scheme of things, but I feel that a term should be changed to something less generic and more descriptive. Something like (note that this is an example not a suggestion cause I suck at these sort of things) “Intelligent Internet” instead of “Web 3.0″ or “Social Internet” instead of “Web 2.0″.

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