What is Web 3.0?
Web 3.0 is here. I know what you are thinking: “But wait a minute Steve, didn’t Web 2.0 just happen?” Well, the speed of technology thrusts us forward quickly. Daniel Nations suggests in his About.com article that Web 3.0 will take about 10 years to mature. He also predicts Web 3.0 will begin around 2015. I think it has already begun. There have been significant developments in the WWW lately that constitute a redefinition of the medium. The implications of this shift in technology will change the way you relate to information, do business, and connect with others online. Maybe this is why I don’t read articles on about.com.
“What is Web 3.0? Is this just another marketing term you are throwing at me?” Well, I suppose “Web 3.0″ is just jargon. The WWW is a vast and somewhat unpredictable creature that is ever-changing. The nature of the web can be referenced at any point in time however. Web 3.0 is here, read on to find out what that means.
If Web 2.0 demanded frequent posting, Web 3.0 will mean a constant connection to the Internet. Web 3.0 is omnipresent. Web 3.0 lives in apps that are found in all the devices you typically find in the modern home. Apps developed for various platforms use APIs to connect to the omnipresent web. What is an API? It is a set of programming standards that allow developers to leverage web technologies like Facebook, iOS, or Twitter. APIs allow technologies to communicate to each other. Twitter for example, can be used on practically any mobile device to allow you to tweet about your surroundings. Anyone can link their Twitter account to their blog, so followers remain updated about new blog posts. The blog software uses the Twitter API to do this. Web 3.0 is built around applications and APIs that we use in our everyday lives. APIs allow anyone to leverage technology that would otherwise require a team of enginneers to create. To build a successful site in the Web 3.0 marketplace it will require the integration of established APIs that enhance connectivity to WWW beyond the typical link. While links make the web go ’round, APIs allow for enhanced methods of promoting various media content on the WWW.
Since Web 3.0 is everywhere, content will be increasingly created for mobile devices. Web 3.0 uses all the standard features of the mobile device to understand the world around you: the camera, accelerometer, compass, and gyroscope on an iPhone for instance. Web 3.0 technologies then display contextual information based on your location, movement, where you point for phone. jQuery Mobile just came out of beta, opening the doors for even novices to create custom content for mobile devices. A deeper understanding of programming for mobile devices is required to leverage their unique feature sets. Earlier this year, Google adapted the open source Arduino platform for anyone who wants to develop peripherals for Android devices. iOS maintains a barrier for some, as it requires an understanding of Objective-C, a programming language pretty much exclusive to Apple devices. It has become extremely easier to self-publish media content for most mobile platforms, opening up the world of books, music, and movies to a new market of creative professionals.
Some have theorized that Web 3.0 will be like Second Life, a virtual world with 3D shops and information centers that you navigate with a 3D avatar. Second Life was merely a proof of concept for Web 3.0. It was indeed ahead of its time and served as a model for things to come. Web 3.0 is not virtual in nature, but instead it augments our reality. It isn’t really even practical to think everyone will use a virtual reality forum. People want the WWW wherever they are. 3D acceleration is already there in some smartphones to allow for augmented reality applications. iPhones and Andriod devices already have apps that utilize cameras to visualize our surroundings in a new way. Take the iOS Yelp app for example. You can use this Yelp “monocle” to visualize reviews of restaurants around you. Astronomy apps utilize the accelerometers and compasses in phones to visualize constellations where you point the phone toward the sky. Augmented reality will be a key feature in Web 3.0 technology as we look for faster, more efficient means for accessing information on the web that goes beyond traditional print forms of communication.
While augmented reality enhances physical space with applicable information, another development in the WWW allows us to virtualize our personal information and have it at our fingertips wherever we are. Cloud services are specialized APIs that can be used to virtualize an individual’s personal life. Think of the cloud as virtual storage medium for your digital existence. Cloud APIs have already gone beyond personal storing personal files like DropBox, to form specialized services for digital media. Google Music already allows anyone to upload their entire music collection and listen to it anywhere on their mobile device for free, while technologies like iCloud monetize this service. You can expect to see Cloud APIs integrate with existing software like blogs and social media. Online content delivery services like Kindle or iTunes already tap into Cloud services by delivering content straight from the Cloud down to the device you are currently using. The Cloud makes it convenient for accessing information across the multiple devices that enter our live. This convenience will make the omnipresent web even more alluring for users and propel Web 3.0 technologies to the forefront.
Since he created the WWW, Tim Burners-Lee has always thought it should operate on a semantic level. Burners-Lee outlined in 1998 how technologies will have to adapt in order for this to happen. Theorists have asserted Web 3.0 will operate in much the same way. Instead of search-based keywords, the next generation of search engines scan the web for semantically relevant content. In place of “bon jovi tickets red rocks” you will ask a search engine “Where is the closest place I can see Bon Jovi in Concert?” The search engine will respond with a link to the purchase page on a ticket vendors site. The semantic search understands how to connect the request to relevant content. It may even compare multiple ticket vendors and display the results. Does this sound familiar to anyone?
Siri is the personal assistant found on the iPhone 4S. Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google has said that Siri poses a competitive threat to search engines like Google (telegraph.uk). Although Schmidt has downplayed Siri in recent remarks, Siri IS a significant development in the way we interact with information on the web. Siri is the beginning of Burners-Lee’s concept of the Semantic Web, an internet that responds to human communication and links relevant information across the WWW. On the W3C page that outlines their definition of the semantic web, it states “Semantic Web technologies enable people to create data stores on the Web, build vocabularies, and write rules for handling data.” The Semantic Web means Developers are now required to develop APIs that link relevant content together. Suppose you were developing the website for a coffee house. The physical address on the website gets tagged with geo coordinates, while metadata for “restaurant” links the address to the keyword “coffee”. Now search engines can more reliably access relevant information. The Semantic Web is really still in its infancy. In the next couple years you can expect to see companies like Google and Yahoo tweak their search engines to utilize the Semantic Web.
Web 2.0 produced the template we see on virtually every site: header, footer, sidebar, and content. The style of Web 3.0 references user interfaces found in existing app technology. If there is an associated “style” that comes into fashion, it will be tied to developments in CSS3 and jQuery. You can already visualize designers breaking out of the box, creating layouts with slanted geometries, masked elements, and more sophisticated animations. 3D will finally be integrated into the page layout. In some cases, 3D already has popped up on some pages been but like all web standards, it is still up to the mainstream browsers to support recent developments in HTML5 and CSS3. Microsoft is way behind in web development while Chrome, Safari, and Firefox lead the pack in supporting new web technologies. But like I said earlier, Web 3.0 is readily apparent on mobile devices. We shall see the most development and innovation on platforms like iOS and Android for the next few years. Maybe if and when Google shifts their focus from updating their already excellent UI standards and returns to their roots of providing innovative search engine results, we will see a rebirth of innovation on the desktop web browser in the form of the Semantic Web. I remain skeptical over the future of desktop systems after I hear rumors that Apple, Inc. will cease production of their desktop line of Mac Pros.
If 2011 was the year of the Cloud, 2012 will be the year of the Semantic Web. The Semantic Web is a necessary step in the development of human computer interaction. It is quite humorous to me really, watching people talk to their phones so they can eventually talk with other people. While Web 2.0 brought about video sharing and new media distribution systems, Web 3.0 is complete amalgamation of all preexisting digital media. Marketers have already made this shift in web technology appealing to the consumer by personalizing Cloud services and making the WWW center around the personal life of the individual. Information will be visualized in ways that both reference print media and motion graphics. The HTML5 Canvas element opens up new avenues for visualizing and interacting with data. These new interactive possibilities will differentiate Web 3.0 from previous communication mediums. It is up to the innovators of this new generation to bring about new marketplaces, creative opportunities, and technologies that in the end, are mainly used to bring us together in this greater human comedy we call life.
If you like what you’ve read here, check out my recent post about how technology has become omnipresent in our lives. Back in 2008, I produced two indie video shorts called The Tourist. In this tongue-in-cheek performance, I foresaw the direction web technologies were emerging including the creation of personal assistants like Siri, the realization of the semantic web, and the creation of augmented reality interfaces. Watch the first episode of The Tourist here.
What do you think? Is Web 3.0 here and are we already using some of it’s key features? Where do you see the WWW going in the near future? Leave a comment below to get the discussion rolling.