We've heard the buzzwords, the hype, the whispers: So when is Web 3.0 coming, and what does it mean for you? For the uninitiated, Web 3.0 is the catch-all name given to the next generation of technology development, which means that Web 3.0 is not just one new technology, but a whole host of technologies that collectively work to make life easier (and more profitable). We can't predict everything that Web 3.0 will bring, but here are a few things that we do know about Web 3.0: Information will be customized. The term “semantic search” has been applied to the Web 3.0 generation. Today's search engines rely heavily on keywords to locate what you're searching for; but the next generation will apply meaning to phrases to better define what you want. This will enable you to hone in on exactly what you want in as few clicks as possible. Instead of searching for “Chicago hotels,” you will search for “Chicago hotels with a Jacuzzi, room service, balcony, fitness center, located close to the theater district.” Bingo! Your web browser will become a personal assistant. Much like third-party ad servers, place ads according to content, your web browser will identify your personal preferences and offer suggestions based on what you like. The trick will be to balance customization with discovery. You will be empowered as a creator. Web 2.0 brought interactivity and social media. Web 3.0 will allow you to take advantage of clouded technologies that enable you to develop your own software and applications without knowing a single line of code. You will be free to focus on your Grand Idea instead of how to make it happen. Software as a service and platforms as a service will allow you to collaborate with others on incredible projects heretofore impossible for most consumers. You will be tracked. One caveat to all of this is that your actions will be tracked, your information will be collected, and you will be heavily marketed to based on your interests. On one level, this is good, because you will be exposed to things you're likely to want. On the other hand, your privacy will be at stake. As it is, innovation is often spurred by the promise of profit: Bell, Edison, Gates, Jobs — would we have the telephone, the light bulb, Windows or the iPhone without profit motivation? If industry must bankroll Web 3.0, it must have an incentive. So, when will Web 3.0 be here? Take a look around you — it has already arrived! The first wave is upon us, and these technologies will be expanded upon to build Web 3.0 up to where it is going. Think about:
- Google's new web search tools, which already allow you to track and customize searches and re-order search results per your whims.
- Chrome, Flock and Firefox, web browsers that assist you in everything from finding coupons to communicating with your social network. Even Microsoft has opened the Internet Explorer code so add-ons can be created to customize the user experience.
- Nintendo's Wii and Apple's iPhone development platforms make it easy for developers to create new games and applications and share them globally for immediate sale. Software as a service is a huge concept implemented by hundreds of companies, including Salesforce.com and Aviary.com; while community collaboration has made many rich through platforms such as Joomla!, Drupal, OSCommerce and other applications.
- You are already being tracked. From MySpace and Facebook to your MSN profile and Google searches, your actions are tracked through cookies and other means. Advertisements are then served to you depending on what you tend to view, discuss and do.
So, what does Web 3.0 mean to you?