SEP 25th 2007

I recently read on Network World that Gartner's David Mitchell Smith said "There are a lot of constituencies trying to hijack the term Web 3.0." I don't think I like Web 3.0 just yet, do you? I agree with the Gartner representative that Web 3.0 wreaks of marketing hype, and in my opinion it is a race by people that felt left behind by the Web 2.0 movement. Vendors pushing the term Web 3.0 are advocating the rise of the Mobile Web, virtual worlds, and the Semantic Web. I agree that all of these technologies will take rise, but I don't agree that we should call that era "Web 3.0."

Web 2.0 was — and in many ways still is — a rather ambiguous term coined to represent a new design style, out-of-the-box ideas about user and community interaction, and the implementation of slick albeit already existing technologies to revolutionize Web user interfaces. Let's not forget tagging, folksonomies, AJAX, the wisdom of crowds, and so on. Web 2.0 is not a technology, it is a label that represents a group of technologies, design patterns, and ideals. In the same way, Web 3.0 is not a technology, but the labeling of a group (or groups) of technologies, design patterns, and new standards.

I'm not the only one talking about this. Nova Spivack and Yihong Ding have both posted responses to Micthell's stance on Web 3.0.

I agree with several of Yihong's points. While he appears to support the idea of a Web 3.0, he does not agree with the current idea of what Web 3.0 will be, nor does he think we can predict that at this point. As I said earlier, I don't like the idea of Web 3.0. I don't support arbitrary versioning of an ever-evolving network of nodes supported by an evolving set of standards and technologies. We never hit a version at any point in the Web. I entertain the versioning systems, don't get me wrong, it makes talking about the old era (Web 1.0) and the current era (Web 2.0) a lot easier. I just don't think we need to keep this versioning tradition going.

"Please don't tie Web 3.0 tight to Semantic Web. Yes, please, as Gartner has disapproved."

- Yihong Ding; Gartner rejects the temptation of Web 3.0

I say this to myself whenever I hear someone associate the Semantic Web with Web 3.0. You have to ask yourself if it makes sense to continue versioning the Web. Yihong lists his ideas of what Web 3.0 might be:

  • Entry-level version of the Semantic Web that can be visualized by virtual worlds and accessed through mobile devices
  • Embedding of semantic specification into virtual worlds
  • The interpretation and specification of semantics through mobile devices

Nova supports Web 3.0 through and through. In February 2007 Nova posted a diagram of his idea of where Web evolution was headed:

How the WebOS Evolves?

In that post he says the diagram illustrates his thinking at that time at his company Radar Networks. He also considers that path to be where they are headed. So being an advocate of Web versioning he naturally disagrees with what Mitchell has to say about Web 3.0.

In his post about Gartner, Nova lists the various technologies he believes Web 3.0 will be comprised of:

Cloud computing
Open peer-to-peer grid storage, and computing capabilities on the Web
Mobile Web
Higher bandwidth, more storage, and more powerful processors empowering mobile devices
Personalization
Increase in the power of personalization tools and personal assistant tools
Search
Smarter search engines that not only answer questions, but will accept commands
Data integration and portability
Improvements in account portability, integration, and data between different Web applications
Databases
Fundamental change, moving away from the relational model and object model towards the associative model of data (graph databases and triple stores)

It's an interesting read, and he describe some great innovations. He's pretty passionate about Web 3.0.

It's too early for me to know how I'll feel about Web 3.0 in a year or even three years from now. I always like to keep my mind open about new ideas, even if I don't agree with them. In May 2006 Tim Berners-Lee said this about his idea of Web 3.0:

"People keep asking what Web 3.0 is. I think maybe when you've got an overlay of scalable vector graphics - everything rippling and folding and looking misty - on Web 2.0 and access to a semantic Web integrated across a huge space of data, you'll have access to an unbelievable data resource."

- Tim Berners-Lee; A 'more revolutionary' Web

His vision there isn't anything nearly like Nova's vision of Web 3.0, but Tim may have more to say on the topic. Web 3.0 seems to be just as ambiguous as Web 2.0, if not more so.

Nova, Yihong, and I have rather different views of what should become of Web 3.0. Nova is a true advocate of Web 3.0 and has many ideas that express his vision. He also closely ties Web 3.0 to the Semantic Web. Yihong doesn't agree that Web 3.0 should be associated with the Semantic Web and has a few ideas of what Web 3.0 will be. I consider myself mostly undecided, but I won't say I support it. I don't support Web versioning. What do you think about Web 3.0?

About the author

James Simmons

It's my goal to help bring about the Semantic Web. I also like to explore related topics like natural language processing, information retrieval, and web evolution. I'm the primary author of Semantic Focus and I'm currently working on several Semantic Web projects.

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