What will Web 3.0 be like? How will its applications work? This article is aimed at answering these questions.
Before the creation of the world wide web and the spread of Internet technology, gaining knowledge about anything was a slow and tedious process. You had to visit libraries, get into a school or college if you are lucky or ask around and tap your social network by word of mouth for information.
The introduction of the world wide web (what is now dubbed Web 1.0) and Internet technology revolutionized information sharing and created a global pool of information, enriched by bright minds, which could be tapped by anybody with an Internet connection. With Web 2.0 (which is the name given to the emergence of Internet as it is now after the dot com bubble burst), web became more ‘interactive’ and ‘open’ to users making it truly democratic. Questioning what is Web 3.0, is asking what will be the nature of the world wide web of the future.
What is Web 3.0?
So what exactly are we talking about when we refer to Web 3.0? For that to be explained, I will have to present a brief prologue of developments and status of the current world wide web which is named vaguely as Web 2.0. The name does not indicate an official directive or technical specification or technology of any kind but it’s a collective name given to a movement aimed at making the web truly open, global and interactive.
Web 2.0 is all about creating web pages with user centric design, interactive sharing of data, collaborating and providing a medium for users to express themselves. Social networking sites, blogs, wikis, video sharing sites, Internet search engines and web applications are a part of the Web 2.0 culture. However, there are many things that make this culture inadequate to serve today’s computer user’s needs.
When one searches for things on the Internet through search engines like Google, the search results that you get, may not exactly satisfy a user’s expectations, which are often quite complex. One still has to sift through the information to get a relevant piece of data. This is because the computing technology is not yet intelligent enough to understand information.
Web 3.0 is the next stage in evolution of the world wide web that will address the inadequacies of Web 2.0 as we know it to be. Though opinions differ as to how it will be, many experts take it as a phase of making the web increasingly more ‘personal’ and relying on a ‘semantic web’ for the search and provision of information. Let me briefly explain what ‘personalization’ means in this context and what is the semantic web in the next section.
How Will Web 3.0 Work?
It will be aimed at making web usage to be an increasingly more personal experience for a web user. The information presented to him will be modified according to his specific needs and past searches on the web. The web will be like a close friend or an assistant who knows enough about you to know what you want. While this idea seems ludicrous, that is one of the goals of Web 3.0. We are already taking steps towards it through social networking sites like Facebook, that provide information tailored to a user’s expectations.
The information that a user needs will be exactly provided to him through the use of a semantic web and an online profile that details many aspects of his or her life. Now what is semantic web? To find the proverbial needle of information in the Internet haystack, Web 3.0 is expected to be a neat database which will enable computers to really understand information and not just search for ‘keywords’. It is expected by some to be a ‘semantic web’ which is an organized knowledge database, with a clear ontology.
Due to the hierarchical classification of information according to ‘meaning’, searching and finding data will be simpler. This, combined with availability of user profile that has a record of his previous searches, a user will be provided with data that he really needs. Web 3.0 applications will also be tailor made according to a user’s needs and they may be served to him through an integrated environment called a ‘Mashup’.
Computers will read this information hierarchy through metadata provided by sites which is only visible to the web crawlers. This has already been partially implemented by Google search engine whereby it reads the metadata in the form of ‘rich snippets’ provided by the web page. However, to make data organized in this fashion, firstly it has to make sense and secondly, every web developer has to classify information on his site and create a local hierarchy.
All types of information broadcasting media, like the television will be engulfed and integrated into the web as a seamless whole. E-commerce and Internet shopping will have evolved to a level where every transaction is made electronically. Education may be made possible through virtual classrooms that provide education to a global audience.
There are many issues regarding how all this can be made possible but as I said these are all predictions and therefore I am allowed to say things and keep them hanging in the air! That is the freedom of a futurist or a science fiction writer.
While people are still coming to terms with the potential that Web 2.0 holds, it is really difficult to gauge what Web 3.0 holds. What people predict is that it will be a more personalized and intelligent world wide web that will function almost like your personal assistant. Technology has had a nature of surprising its creators with possibilities that they wouldn’t even have dreamed of. So all futurists predicting the nature of world wide web or Web 3.0 might be in for a big surprise! All we can do today is only imagine what it could be!