Web 2.0 isn't dead, but Web 3.0 is bubbling up

Web 2.0 isn't dead, but Web 3.0 is bubbling up

Summary: Nick Carr was at this best synthesizing the week that was--the Web 2.0 Summit--and he wasn't even there.

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TOPICS: Browser
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Nick Carr was at this best synthesizing the week that was--the Web 2.0 Summit--and he wasn't even there. I agree with other bloggers, commentators, writers, reporters,  pundits, podcasters, vloggers, journalists and user generated content creators who said that the Web 2.0 Summit, which I covered extensively, didn't produce any great revelations or a great step forward for the global Web. It was more about scraping money off the table as the money--VCs, IAC, Fox Interactive, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and others--were auditioning startups in the hallways and in private rooms.

Nick is having fun calling Web 2.0 mostly over and heading straight to Web 3.0:

I'm claiming the trademarks on Web 3.0 Conference, Web 3.0 Summit, Web 3.0 Camp, Web 3.0 Uncamp, and Web 3.0 Olde Tyme Hoedown. 

Many people I talked to identified a lack of big innovations, little companies with features but not products, too many products crowding the same space, too many startups trying to horn into MySpace  and the lack of sizzle from the hand-picked companies that demoed their products in public and paid their appearance fee. But, it's hard to put down the fact that a lot of energy and creativity is at work, even if most of it won't make the cut.

The alternative is no enthusiasm or creative juices flowing, and we are back in time, reliving the desolation of the bubble burst era. Plenty of room for innovation exists, but the power is concentrating in a few behemoths dominating the landscape, which gradually tend to stifle innovation, slowing it down to the pace of the large and lumbering, and fewer choices.

Back to Web 3.0. There will be one, and it has been associated at this point with concepts of the semantic Web, derived from the primordial soup of Web technologies. It's been a focus of attention for Tim Berners-Lee, who cooked up much of what the Internet is today, for a nearly a decade.

Nova Spivack, founder and CEO of Radar Networks, defined the semantic Web in a long post on his blog that is worth reading:  

The Semantic Web is a set of technologies which are designed to enable a particular vision for the future of the Web – a future in which all knowledge exists on the Web in a format that software applications can understand and reason about. By making knowledge more accessible to software, software will essentially become able to understand knowledge, think about knowledge, and create new knowledge. In other words, software will be able to be more intelligent – not as intelligent as humans perhaps, but more intelligent than say, your word processor is today.

I won't argue with attaching the semantic Web to 3.0, although there may be something unforeseen in between what we have today and a Web in which the machines seem more intelligent, and do more than calculate inbound and outbound links to derive relevant answers to queries.

John Markoff triggered the discussion around Web 3.0 and systems that can reason in a more human way, in a recent New York Times article. He described the differences between Web 2.0 and 3.0:

The classic example of the Web 2.0 era is the “mash-up” — for example, connecting a rental-housing Web site with Google Maps to create a new, more useful service that automatically shows the location of each rental listing.

In contrast, the Holy Grail for developers of the semantic Web is to build a system that can give a reasonable and complete response to a simple question like: “I’m looking for a warm place to vacation and I have a budget of $3,000. Oh, and I have an 11-year-old child.”

While Web 3.0 might now have a concept to hang itself on, we will remain in the midst of the Web 2.0 era for several more years. The semantic Web is still incubating and will take many turns of the crank to become mainstream.

Markoff mentioned Spivack's Radar Networks and Metaweb, two companies developing technology around semantic Web concepts. Both companies are in stealth mode, and only talking in generalities about their product plans. 

In response to the attention the semantic Web has been getting since Markoff's article, Spivack recently posted about misconceptions layered on the concept:

The Semantic Web is not just a single Web. There won't be one Semantic Web, there will be thousands or even millions of them, each in their own area. They will connect together over time, forming a tapestry. But nobody will own this or run this as a single service.   

The Semantic Web is not separate from the existing Web. The Semantic Web won't be a new Web apart from the Web we already have. It simply adds new metadata to the existing Web. It merges right into the existing HTML Web just like XML does, except this new metadata is in RDF.   

The Semantic Web is not just about unstructured data. In fact, the Semantic Web is really about structured data: it provides a means (RDF) to turn any content or data into structured data that other software can make use of. This is really what RDF enables.

The Semantic Web does not require complex ontologies. Even without making use of OWL and more sophisticated ontologies, powerful data-sharing and data-integration can be enabled on the existing Web using even just RDF alone.

The Semantic Web does not only exist on Web pages. RDF works inside of applications and databases, not just on Web pages. Calling it a "Web" is a misnomer of sorts -- it's not just about the Web, it's about all information, data and applications.

The Semantic Web is not only about AI, and doesn't require it. There are huge benefits from the Semantic Web without ever using a single line of artificial intelligence code. While the next-generation of AI will certainly be enabled by richer semantics, is not the only benefit of RDF. Making data available in RDF makes it more accessible, integratable, and reusable -- regardless of any AI. The long-term future of the Semantic Web is AI for sure -- but to get immediate benefits from RDF no AI is necessary.

The Semantic Web is not only about mining, search engines and spidering. Application developers and content providers, and end-users, can benefit from using the Semantic Web (RDF) within their own services, regardless of whether they expose that RDF metadata to outside parties. RDF is useful without doing any data-mining -- it can be baked right into content within authoring tools and created transparently when information is published. RDF makes content more manageable and frees developers and content providers from having to look at relational data models. It also gives end-users better ways to collect and manage content they find.

The Semantic Web is not just research. It's already in use and starting to reach the market. The government uses it of course. But also so do companies like Adobe, and more recently Yahoo (Yahoo Food is built on the Semantic Web). And one flavor of RSS is defined with RDF. Oracle has released native RDF support in their products. The list goes on...

Ross Mayfield doesn't put much stock in the grand semantic Web vision or a Web 3.0 in the future.

I'd bet the future is less the Matrix than Soylent Green.  Less semantic fuzz than social discovery.  Less artificial intelligence than human intelligence.  Less automation and more augmentation.  Wandering around the Web 2.0 Summit I saw more presentations using 3.0 than I can enunummerate.  Some were about more immersive platforms, some desire the singularity, but most just wanted to be new and cool.
The truth lies somewhere in the middle--the living and breathing social Web along with semantic Web technologies will help create a new infrastructure for the information Web that is far different and more powerful than what we call Web 2.0...

Topic: Browser

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11 comments
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  • When will Web 3.0 be born

    There will be a short intermission before the birth of Web 3.0, if the past is any indicator. First a few latecomers to the party will have to take a financial bath as the musical chairs game stops and they don't have a seat.

    Then it will come, inevitably. I loved Markoff's article. It just didn't give timelines that will suit the people who have financial security at stake. Someone always suffers at a birth.
    francine@...
    • Meanwhile Web 1.x chugs along...

      ..until they shut off the automatic updates.
      dave.leigh@...
  • Under our nose

    Nothing I can think of is more germane to Web 3.0 than this current debate on document file formats and the movement to stop Microsoft's format from gaining ISO approval.

    You get a real, open format for docs and you've got phase 1 of the Semantic Web where documents ant the internet become one and applications can link to a million different ontological libraries, each growing out of a different field.

    An open standard file format for documents (like ODF) permits meta-intelligence to move with documents.

    Duh!
    swhiser
  • Where is business model for web 2.0?

    How are sites like Ohmynews going to make money, consistently?
    pramitsingh@...
  • Direct Economy

    Direct Economy: Customer knowledge is replacing producer knowledge

    By Xavier Comtesse, mathematician, ThinkStudio.com

    Globalisation, delocalisation, mobility and work flexibility take centre stage in the media world, creating a climate charged with fears. Despite this, a potentially more destabilising phenomenon is emerging: direct economy.
    What is it exactly?
    Combinations of four factors are generating a very different economy. The arrival of the consumer into the value chain ? changing production processes; the disappearance of intermediaries which leave the door open for new forms of intermediation; the appearance of new business models; and finally price setting which follows the bidding trend. By acting together, these four elements of direct economy are upsetting and deeply transforming the old economy.
    Some examples and explanations are necessary to grasp how much this metamorphosis is about to transform our vision of the economy.
    Since IKEA, Easyjet, DELL, E*Trade and many others have offered consumers participation in the production process, especially in the product?s end phase, we understand that the value chain is in a restructuring period. Indeed, by joining in the chain, the consumer fully participates in the creation process; he is the key element because without his intervention, there would be no finished product. When IKEA entrusts the final stages of transport and ?setup? of a piece of furniture to its customers, there is, in a sense, a transfer because IKEA outsourced part of its production. Thanks to this mode, IKEA relinquished two costly processes ? delivery and setup; and can thereby offer its customers price cuts, because of how much it has increased its external productivity. This is the central reading key to these new processes.
    Easyjet, DELL and E*Trade don?t act any differently. It is obvious that products which were shaped by the consumer?s active participation cannot be sold differently anymore. Therefore, the value creation chain has been profoundly affected, and this permanently. It?s under that angle that direct economy must be approached

    "It?s a background revolution which implicates revisiting the way the economy is understood. "
    Obviously, classic intermediaries such as tradesmen aren?t satisfied, because the consumer will have tendency to circumvent them to find himself directly in contact with the producer. In the meantime, a new form of intermediation is being set up. E*Trade, eBay and many other direct economy companies have been forced to open a new type of ?shop?. These shops are primarily learning centres, and operate more like ?Internet caf?s? than classical training rooms. Tutors meet participants who are in auto-apprenticeship. This collective, organised as an interest community, will function like an enlarged competence network. Intellectual exchange and apprenticeship is free, but the motor for cooperation is success for all. We can imagine what effect this will have on our schools and universities if they were to function along the lines of such a business model! Intermediation leaves behind the more informational form (information/price/quality/after-sales), aiming towards the more formative (formation/bidding/completion/practical community).
    New business models are therefore starting to supplant the older ones. It is not about looking for ?low cost? in production, but for ?high productivity? in the consumer. By inversing values, these companies create a move towards the customers? know-how. All that is basic knowledge information becomes free, and all that is complex knowledge must be paid for. In a sense we are leaving an economy founded on producers? knowledge for a customer knowledge economy. It is a background revolution which implicates revisiting the way we understand the economy. When Skype made Internet communications free, it demolished the telecommunications? industry?s economic model. Also, when the three, mp3, iPod, iTunes appeared on the market, the music industry was shaken up. Without doubt this economical evolution will take over in the future, and that?s only a beginning.
    If we observe eBay and its model of fixing prices through bidding, we notice that even the mechanism of price fixing changes. eBay is the largest virtual shop in the world. Customers exchange not only their used products, but tens of thousands of small specialised shops offer all sorts of new merchandise, a sort of huge online bazaar. The owners of these small shops are real professionals who live off these transactions and are organising tomorrow?s shopping world, because everything is sold without price or negotiation but by bids. This practise is totally new for consumers, who were never before in a situation which makes them state a price in the hope of winning a bid. In the old economy, we were never used to fixing a price for merchandise which could also be coveted by others at a different price, and which could then be sold to the highest bidder. This situation necessitates apprenticeship first, but also leads to fundamental changes in consumers? behaviour. The question is to know whether the consumers will be able to come back to the old form of buying when they have familiarised themselves with and got used to these new practises. We could make some bets.
    This change in price setting will probably entail an important economic mutation towards what we can today qualify as direct economy.
    To conclude, I would like to propose a risked analogy with direct democracy. When Switzerland pushed the democratic concept as far as to offer governing tools to the people, such as the initiative and the referendum, the Swiss invented direct democracy. Are we not at the dawn of a new type of invention on the economic scale? If real power is given to consumers, meaning finishing the product, cancel out the intermediaries, change models and fix prices, are we not already modifying the bases of the economy?
    xcomtesse
  • Web 3?

    Ho effing Hum.
    thuss
  • This is really getting old

    To be honest, this whole web classification system is really getting old!
    Yes, technologies have been coming out and it was all interesting in the beginning... but you lot really need to find something [b]else[/b] to talk about.
    This means near nothing to the people who use the web every day - a lot of interesting sites are still using what you lot would call web 1.0!
    cortalux@...
  • i agree

    first of all, versioning of the web is ridiculous. second, we have jumped two full versions of naming in the last 1-2 years. i don't want my kids using web 18.0 (think of the kids!). they should still just be using *The Internet*.

    the versioning also puts constraints on the technologies and tools people think they can use to be v X.0 compliant (joke). please, just develop. resist the herd, just make sure that we continue with this open api movement.
    markshervey
  • Semantic Web - IMPORTANT NOTES

    I am all for the semantic web and the development of a layer of consciousness over it for full interoperability and new application mashups. I've heard of a number of publishers thinking about jumping on the semantic bandwagon right now, evaluating services like Calais (OpenCalais.com) and Zementa (www.zementa.com) that are capable of providing enhanced sementic indexing and recommendation services. These are highly intelligent systems that could make up a powerful publishing toolkit...sounds great, but one has to ask - AT WHAT PRICE?

    Build-vs-buy decisions are common in our line of work. And with tools like Calais and Zementa now out in the marketplace with a powerful semantic toolkit, it is enough to make any publisher jump at the opportunity. But STOP - the devil is in the details - here's the fine print

    ZEMENTA Terms and conditions:
    - You understand that Zemanta ltd. can retain a copy of the submited content. Copy will not be retained only in the case when Zemanta Browser Extension submits the content of e-mail message from the mail composer view. Zemanta can without exception retain a copy of the metadata and content enhancements submitted by you or that generated by the Zemanta service. By submitting content to or generating metadata, content and content enhancements through the Zemanta service, you grant Zemanta ltd. a non-exclusive perpetual, sublicensable, royalty-free license to that metadata. From a privacy standpoint, Zemanta ltd. use of this metadata and content enhancements is governed by the terms of the Zemanta ltd. and Zemanta Privacy Statements.

    OPEN CALAIS (REUTERS OWNED) TERMS OF USE

    You understand that Thomson Reuters will retain a copy of the metadata submitted by you or that generated by the Calais service. By submitting or generating metadata through the Calais service, you grant Thomson Reuters a non-exclusive perpetual, sublicensable, royalty-free license to that metadata. From a privacy standpoint, Thomson Reuters' use of this metadata is governed by the terms of the Thomson Reuters and Calais Privacy Statements.

    SO WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

    For a traditional build-buy decision, the benefits are clear - you pay the vendor, the vendor provides a service, makes a profit and you still own your intellectual property. In the above terms, a publisher would theoretically use a semantic service to index their content, and then assign royalty free rights over to the service provider????!!!

    What is very worrying for me is that many publishers are not completely understanding what the semantic web truly means once their content rights are signed away as in the above arrangements. Semantic web applications rely on good content to create their vocabularies and an "understanding of the world". the more reference points they have (more bases of content) the more accurate their contextual understanding becomes. Even if they do not retain a copy of your content, their engine would have learned a lot from your data. I've personally seen some prototype applications able to summarize articles fairly accurately. What does this mean when you grant these application providers royalty free content rights? Could they potentially reason against your content and provide answers without users having to visit your site/publication? Technologically, I've seen it work. What's stopping them from doing this?

    Well, with these clauses in place, apparently nothing.
    roarks
  • RE: Web 2.0 isn't dead, but Web 3.0 is bubbling up

    Web 2.0 collaboration is dead it is all for business now http://goo.gl/fb/b4vWN
    lalitsc
  • RE: Web 2.0 isn't dead, but Web 3.0 is bubbling up

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