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University Web Developers

I just read the 27 page summary of the "Semantic Wave 2008: Industry Roadmap to Web 3.0 and Multibillion Dollar Market Opportunities" report. Here is a link to the post on this from Read/Write Web, including information about how to get the summary report:

Semantic Wave 2008 - Free Summary Report for RWW Readers

From RRW:

"The report defines Web 3.0 as "about representing meanings, connecting knowledge, and putting these to work in ways that make our experience of internet more relevant, useful, and enjoyable."

"The report also defines a "Web 4.0", as follows: "Web 4.0 will come later. It is about connecting intelligences in a ubiquitous Web where both people and things reason and communicate together."

Your thoughts?

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The web is comprised of 4 parts. See chart below:

Even though useful knowledge makes up a small part of the overall picture, it is still pretty huge and growing. There are 2 tasks:

1 - Filter out useless stuff
2 - Find the MOST useful stuff, no matter where, and bring it all together in 1 place

That is what Web 3.0, as they defined it, will do.

I am betting they are dead wrong about Web 4.0., which is a thing, does that already. There is a patent from 1996 about a remote web interface in washing machines. Web interfaces that allow you to communicate with things is old hat. Adding a little bit of intelligence is not going to be a web revolution.

What they describe as Web 4.0 is something else. It will be on cell phones. It may use the http protocol, but it will definitely not be "surfing the net."

This future that they talk about may work like this:

As you walk out to your car at 5pm, your gps-enabled cell phone knows you are 98% likely to be leaving work. Based on traffic monitors setup around the city, it will alert you if there is an accident or heavy traffic on your normal route. As you are about to drive by the convenient store, you may get alerted that you need milk (a request your wife put in or maybe from your fridge if it has advanced that far). Then your car, which is using the GPS on your phone through bluetooth or whatever, lets you know that you should probably fill up gas at the next station. It suggests that particular station because you need gas and gasbuddy reports it as being relatively cheap.

Wait... that's too idealistic.

This is the future:

As you walk by Macy's, you get a txt msg about a sale in housewares. This is because you bought something in housewares last month. Their RFID readers picked up an RFID tag embedded in the boots you bought from Macy's last year. They looked up who bought the boots, got your cell phone number, and sent you the friendly reminder.

Oh! Oh! Even better. Half the stores in the mall share all their customer data with a huge advertising firm that builds up a profile for you. As you walk by Old Navy, they know that you are 59% likely to purchase clothes, and 70% of your clothes purchases in the past 3 years has been for children. Not only that, but you tend to be a little conservative based on your movie ticket and book purchases. Rather than tell you about the mini-skirts on sale for your daughter, they alert you to a sale on sunday dresses.

Welcome to the future. All your data are belong to us.

Hey... don't blame me. You asked for my thoughts.
I hate the phrase "Web 2.0," let alone 3.0 or 4.0. To me, it's really a meaningless fluff term that O'Reilly created to sound smart. To even consider the web in terms of versions is a gross misunderstanding of how the World Wide Web functions as a system in my opinion.

On a fundamental level, there is nothing different about the internet now than when it first started ballooning in the 90s. We have more bandwidth. Smarter encoding schemes for content. Little else. Design has not fundamentally changed. The way content is served and presented has stayed the same. The level of interaction is only a function of how smart programmers are and what the TCP/IP specs allow.

I dunno, it just irks me when people talk about the web this way. The idea of user generated content and interaction isn't a new web of some kind, it's a fad related to improved applications, which will die out and make way for something new soon. It grows up. When a child becomes a teenager, they aren't Child 2.0. They're still the same person, they just have better capacity to understand and reason. Eventually they become an adult and have new problem solving skills, they're taller, and have better fashion sense, but that's not Child 3.0. Still the same person.

Worst of all, you cannot predict what will work or fail on the web, or where it is going. was a stupid amount of successful. Facebook and Myspace made their founders hundreds of millions of dollars. And for each one of those, hundreds fail, for seemingly no good reason.
I love (as in hate) how flashy things (with no data transaction) is considered AJAX. Well, it does sound better than DHTML.
Most AJAX isn't really AJAX. It's like...AJA. But that's harder to say :D
Well it isn't really Asynchronous either. And we can drop the And. So it's really just J... as in Javascript.
I suppose since it relies on XMLHTTPObject, the X could still apply even if you mightn't parse actual XML content, but I don't like how JX sounds.
We could call it Javascript And XML - JAX. You can't get any cooler than a mortal kombat character with bionic arms.

But to remark on this, I think your'e right and wrong.

Web 2.0 does sound stupid. It is not a different version of the web. And most of it isn't really new or exciting.


I think "web 2.0" is more of a revolution than a fad. Wide adoption of certain technologies and mindsets are not going to fade away. The web is no longer clicking through pages and submitting forms for interaction. We have applications. Desktop-like applications.

User-generated content... umm... that's BBS 2.0. Back when I was into BBSs, it was all about forums, user posted files, and the occasional rpg. Each BBS was its own little social network. The only big leap, in my opinion, is Wikis. The idea that people don't just add (ala mailing lists, forums, etc.), but modify instead.

In summary... web 2.0 in terms of user experience is definitely cool and a revolution. Web 2.0 in regards to user-generated content and social networking is catching up to BBSs from the 90s.
And there's the problem. There's no set example of what "Web 2.0" is. It's all perspective and interpretation. The idea of desktop-like applications over the net, to me, has nothing to do with Web 2.0. But that's just my opinion, which is no more or less valid than yours. As I see it, it's a business model. Software as a service is a business model. They're both functions of different technologies that have been developed, but the end result is not much different than normal. Word processor installed, or online? It's still just a word processor. Even collaboration on documents is an old concept with a new facia.

Web 2.0 isn't revolutionary, in my opinion, so much as it is just taking old concepts and streamlining them with improved technology. In the process of it, we're approach Bubble 2.0. The same way the dot-com bubble burst, I think the Web 2.0 bubble will too. To me, Web 2.0 is symbolic of the social aspect of the web, which is contradictory in nature. That dooms it to failure. Were that to happen, we would surely get 3.0 and 4.0, except only because people want to divide things into "eras," and they'd be no different than now.

Here's how it comes together. First, people "socializing" on the web is detrimental to true society, because it destroys pure communication (funny attitude for a webmaster, huh?). That's not its intent, and people will always defend the fact that "now I keep in touch with so-and-so," but the side affect is that more and more people spend more time at a screen and less time with real people. Look at kids today. Second, as people strive to keep up, they will become 2.0-exhausted. I keep up MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, Ning, CeltX, and more. At some point, people are likely to say enough is enough, the environment is too fragmented. Then the bottom will fall out.

What will remain are the core technologies that make things easier, AJAX for example, but in the end, that's nothing more than a combination of four existing things. One thing designed to make existing stuff easier. It's not a revolution, it's natural, technological evolution. And it happens without regard to labels, or concepts, or fads. Just because something is easier or better, to me, doesn't constitute a revolution in technology.

Now, Internet2, that's something worthy of a label. It represents a true step forward in both technology and capability, and it's happening independent of our current world wide web.
I also avoid using the term Web 2.0. It just means too many different things to different people, depending on their background. My friend and colleague Jim Leous from Penn State and I did a workshop a couple of years ago on "Emerging Technologies". We both agreed after the workshop that a better term was "Evolving Technologies". Most of this stuff had been around for awhile.

The best explanation I heard for the term Web 2.0 was from Jeff Veen when he spoke at Penn State. He said silicon valley used it as a business term to donate the second generation of VC funding. (I'm an economics major so this struck a chord with me.)

If you haven't read the report mentioned above, I recommend it. Focus on the ideas more than just the terminology . I've been following Tim Berners Lee's vision of the semantic web for quite some time. Will it ever become reality?
>> Web 2.0 isn't revolutionary, in my opinion, so much as it is just taking old concepts and streamlining them with improved technology.

Just like taking an old concept like putting a machine together in pieces (e.g., a car) and streamlining it with improved technology - the assembly line.

I agree with Mark that the term is best avoided. I find that it's usually non-tech managers that ask, "What are we doing for Web 2.0?"

But I still hold firm that these technologies have had a huge impact. I'm not really into blogging, but I guess tons of people find blogs important on multiple levels (blogs from iraqis and chinese for example). One "blog," not in the this-is-what-i-had-for-breakfast sense, is maddox 's page which has been around since 97 (don't google it if you're a family-type person). As soon as software came out and the revolution/fad started, thousands of blogs have been created each day. Most of them are junk, but there are a few good ones. More importantly, it fed into the "web 2.0" revolution.

What is that revolution? It's the idea that the web is accessible (not in the 501 sense). Any 12 year old that wants to tell us why playstation is better than xbox can easily setup a blog to do so in about 5 minutes. Netflix can run an entire company that ate blockbuster alive through a webpage only. No email. No phone. Even job applicants and investors have to go through the website. We don't just get directions from the web, we explore - scrollable maps, satellite, street view, mashups, etc.

So what is the difference between evolving technologies and a revolution? Being able to unlock a car remotely didn't have any social or cultural changes. The web in the past few years has, by your own admission, changed social interaction. It has had political effects in China and also the US (wikileaks, politicians caught trying to change their own wikipedia entries, more grassroot campaigns, etc.). It has had economic impacts. It has changed the culture - before, only geeks had webpages. Now you're a loser if you don't have a myspace page to share with your bff.

The web 2.0 technology contributed to all that. But Web 2.0 isn't technology. It's a social, economical, cultural, political impact caused by the [re]use of certain technologies.
I think it's precious to attempt to predict 'the next big thing'. In my observation of prediction attempts, they are right less than 50% of the time. They are, almost 100% of the time, merely attempts at income generation for the predictor.

What do you think, Mark?



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