Why Web 3.0?

As Tim O'Reilly admitted recently, the Web 2.0 meme was created to help businesses get over the dotcom crash. There was no way of getting investors to put money in the web, so it was important to rebrand. Mike Bergman - and many others - may not like it, and quite reasonably so, but this was probably a business necessity. The web of course never died and clearly never will. But since "Web" got associated with bust, Crash, 911 and what not, it was important to emphasize that everything did not end, there was a new beginning. There was a life after Pet Shop stores. This is the point of Web 2.0, and Tim O'Reilly did a great job with his article "What is Web 2.0?" in emphasizing this evolution.

The rebranding was extremely successful. But with success often comes conceit, and it became obvious that major evolutions were being left out of the Web 2.0 sphere. And, as this recent article by Tim indicates, "Today's Web 3.0 Nonsense Blogstorm", the key proponents of 2.0 do not feel like allowing those technologies in, either because they don't understand them, or because they have enough on their plate, or because they find it difficult to speak about it to their investors, or a combination of all of those. It is difficult to explain since as I showed in a recent article that Semantic Web technologies very nicely complement O'Reilly's Web 2.0 patterns. Whatever the reasons for this rejection, it is clear that there is an after Web 2.0 building up, and so the best way to name it is Web 3.0. For some reason this after seems to be unpleasant to the 2.0 folks. Of course since it probably limits the capital they have access too. Competition does that. But it is a limit that they are imposing on themselves. Was it because it was easier for them to build momentum for their ideas? Starting small is a good strategy. But no one can own the whole future. It evolves, and idea that Nova Spivack defends very clearly, and for which he is rewarded by having some clever investors.

In fact we should be glad there is the Web 2.0 crowd and that Tim manages to argue so well at keeping them there, and frightening them from coming over here. Without this boundary it would be much more difficult to explain what is new, and we would end up being overwhelmed by a me too crowd intent on latching onto the latest. (There are a few of those already here, btw.) So yes. Web 3.0 is the future, but it is a risky one. On the other hand as the Web 2.0 space fills up, life will be getting more and more difficult in the red ocean of intense competition, witness the never ending new social networking startups. Inevitably the risks of going three are going to be outweighed by the difficulty of staying in me 2 land.

But if all of this still makes the hair rise up on your head, I suggest using the web n+1 shorthand. That puts you at the bleeding edge always, in a politically correct way. And for the whole thing explained with a lot more humour, see Web 3.0 I$ About Money.



Web 2.0 is more than helping businesses get over the dotcom crash. Similarly, Web 3.0 will not be just a commercial slogan too. Maybe you would be interested in my recent post "What Web 2.0 is," which is on this topic. The post is not generated to address this issue from its intuition. But it occasionally happens to be a complement to this hot discussion.


-- Yihong

Posted by Yihong Ding on October 07, 2007 at 01:14 PM CEST #

Hi Yihong, thanks for the link.

I am not arguing that there is nothing novel about Web 2.0. The web keeps evolving, so there is always going to be something new coming along, and from time to time there are even going to be some fundamentally new structures emerging.

What bothers some people about the Web 1.0/2.0/3.0 debate is that it is very much at a marketing level. It is a debate that is not happening at the 'serious' engineering level. A lot of these technologies existed before hand. For example the imdb (Internet Movie Database) was a socially built up database that I used in 1995. Open Source software was built in a socially and distributed way. You could have lengthy conversation on java.net forums with on all kinds of topics in 1999.

The Web 2.0 meme really is an important way to get people to think past the busts of petshop stores, and put the spotlight on a whole new evolving ecosystem. These ecosystems are real. The businesses are real. But without the unifying term, they may have been all to easily overlooked.

This is why we need the Web 3.0 meme. We need to have a space to think about Open Data and hyperdata. And this is a major enough change, witness the incomprehension of the Web 2.0 crowd, for it to need a new name.

Posted by Henry Story on October 07, 2007 at 02:36 PM CEST #

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Posted by Skrocki's Weblog on October 07, 2007 at 08:52 PM CEST #

I think we have not yet utilized the full strength of web 2.0 hence going to web 3.0 is too early. However I am curious to know how web 3.0 will look like since we are going to convert web sites into web services.

Posted by 42mb.com on October 21, 2007 at 07:05 AM CEST #

There will always be issues with current technology that can only be resolved by being upgraded to a new technology.
Web 2.0 has some gaps, if Web 3.0 can resolve these then it is definitely time to move on. If we could go straight to Web 4.0 or 10.0 that would be better!

Now while Web 2.0 isn't really a "technology" so to speak, it is definitely a "technology of methods" and, in my opinion, the same principle should apply here as it does to hardware. And I know that if there was an Octo-Core 50GHz processor with a 500EB (exabytes) I would want one now, and so would you, even though I am still learning on my current dual-core technology.

My point is, the faster we can progress, the better. If there are better methodologies to use, I will use them. The great thing about humans is that we can always adjust quickly, and Web 2.0/3.0 is no different.

Posted by George Cleanthous on August 29, 2008 at 02:59 AM CEST #

World Wide Web is evolving. Basically, evolution is not a process of solving problems, as often technology innovation does. By contrast, evolution is to continuously improving certain existing creature so that it becomes better and better. By this sense, we may understand better why Web 2.0 is an important stage of Web evolution but it may not necessarily a technological innovation.

Posted by Yihong Ding on August 29, 2008 at 03:45 AM CEST #

Web 2.0 is my eyes is simply the current evolution of the World Wide Web. I hate the buss that was created around this. It was so frustrating to have clients come to us saying, can you please add this web 2.0 here! Our response, umm I think your referring to AJAX technology mate... It's been around for a while now. Shame that the client was the technology know all at a popular advertising agency. I mean I am not looking forward to hearing people talk about Web 3.0. Who are you to say when this is the case. Did we ever stop and say "hmm, I think the human race have reached version 5.0"?

Posted by Sean on May 08, 2009 at 07:42 AM CEST #

I can only confirm what you already said: You have 2 bases of web 3.0 - the good one that brings people together and offers new possibilities in connecting the whole world. The other and in my opinion the more real possibility - the web goes a way we all do not want it - people loose their identity and others know more about you than you...

Posted by Lava on November 01, 2009 at 03:09 PM CET #

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