Richard Wallis of Talis recently asked some questions on his blog.
- Do you think Web 3.0 will be the label of the next technology wave?
- Will the next wave be based on Semantic Web technologies?
- Does it matter what we call it?
I have a bit of an affinity with Talis, since they also employ Ian Davis. Back in July 2005, wrote a wonderful essay on Web 2.0, which contains a quote I use a lot. I have come to rely on it to get technically-oriented (or technically-baffled) people out of the assumption that Web 2.0 is a standard, or a set of technologies. It’s not. In Ian’s words…
Web 2.0 is an attitude not a technology. It’s about enabling and encouraging participation through open applications and services. By open I mean technically open with appropriate APIs but also, more importantly, socially open, with rights granted to use the content in new and exciting context
Do you think Web 3.0 will be the label of the next technology wave?
I’ve wondered the same thing. In fact, I’ve half-jokingly used it as an assumption. Something like “if we understand Web 2.0, what will Web 3.0 be?”. Outside of that usage – the logical next wave of the web – I tend to avoid using it as a term. I don’t think it helps, and I can’t see it ever sticking. If that next wave does turn out to be based on something specific, like Semantic Web technologies, then the very fact that people already use ‘Semantic Web’ to mean that bundle of stuff should suggest that ‘Web 3.0’ would be an ugly and unnecessary alternative.
In November 2006, Nova Spivack said
“while we probably don’t need another label I would at least say that “Web 3.0” is less intimidating than the term “Semantic Web” to many. On the other hand, I can see a potential confusion arising from terms like Web X.0 as well.”
I think he’s right that we don’t need another label, and wrong that “Web 3.0” is less intimidating than ‘Semantic Web’. It’s less meaningful, which means people will still want to use “Semantic” to describe it.
But anyway, that brings us on to the second question:
Will the next wave be based on Semantic Web technologies?
Maybe. It’s one possibility, and they may at least play a part. Of course, the Wikipedia page on Web 3.0 contains a good roundup of some of the other potential directions, which include a move towards the web as a database, AI, open identity, even 3D Internet.
That last one has long been a passion of mine. I’m not just talking about the real-time participatory nature of virtual worlds, but the interoperable universe of virtual worlds, the standards and conventions which tie them together and the interconnection between virtual worlds and the 2D web. Inspired by people like Mark Wallace and ‘3.D’ (a hybrid of 3.0 and 3D), I’ve begun talking about Enterprise 3.D. I don’t know (or care) if it sticks, and I don’t even spend long explaining it. If people like it, they might use it. Otherwise I’ll have to find a better way of explaining myself.
Does it matter what we call it?
Well no. Not really. The one thing that I can’t possibly agree with is Nova’s proposal that
“Web x.0 terminology be used to index the decades of the Web since 1990. Thus we are now in the tail end of Web 2.0 and are starting to lay the groundwork for Web 3.0, which fully arrives in 2010”
I don’t think that’s at all useful. There is no advantage to being able to say that ‘Web 4.0’ officially begins at the start of 2020 and Web 5.0 in 2030, ad nauseam.
I think these things tend to be spotted, rather than invented. Placing arbitrary dates on it doesn’t help, and ‘Web 3.0’ will probably never becomes common usage in the way Web 2.0 has. I’m continuing to keep my eyes open.