Web 3.0 - The Human Web

Someone with even a limited knowledge of human social behaviour, could postulate that approximately 15 minutes after the term "Web 2.0" was coined, someone attempted to introduce "Web 3.0" into the common lexicon. Given that anticipation seems to be a central notion of Web 3.0, that person would have been right to do so.

Eric Schmidt of Google has claimed that Web 2.0 is a
marketing term. Many aspects of Web 2.0 were quickly turned toward direct or indirect business-with-customer applications. Think of the brilliant "Dove" campaign as the former; think of Facebook (because of its ability to focus advertising to the likes and dislikes of the member) as the latter. The possibilities continue to be almost limitless.

So is marketing ready for Web 3.0? Probably more than we realize. Does Web 3.0 exist? I would argue that there are features of it that exist, and that these features help us to anticipate what it will become.

Definitions of Web 3.0 vary greatly. Some of Web 3.0's core concepts pertain to the "semantic web", in which the semantics of various services and content on the web are defined to satisfy the needs of humans and machines to better use web content. A simple way of describing this is: we currently use the web as a vast store of knowledge. If I want to find out the Icelandic term for iceberg, I can do so quickly on the Internet. Adding a notion of semantics to the vast store of knowledge on the web would likely take away the need for me to perform this search. One can envision, for example, typing the term "the Icelandic word for cat" in Blogger, and the word would miraculously appear. (It is "kottur")

Tim Berners Lee describes his vision for the
semantic web this way:

I have a dream for the Web [in which computers] become capable of analyzing all the data on the Web – the content, links, and transactions between people and computers. A ‘Semantic Web’, which should make this possible, has yet to emerge, but when it does, the day-to-day mechanisms of trade, bureaucracy and our daily lives will be handled by machines talking to machines. The ‘intelligent agents’ people have touted for ages will finally materialize.

In a sense, Wikipedia anticipates some elements of the semantic Web through the simple hypertexting that automatically occurs within an entry. One can get a basic definition of a concept through an article, one gets a fuller definition by following various hyperlinks, that exist contextually.

Other aspects of Web 3.0 include ubiquitous connectivity (a website can be browsed online, on a mobile device, etc.); distributed databases; and intelligent applications, or the ability of the Web to reason in an almost human fashion. Some people suggest that intelligent applications will emerge in a more organic fashion, such as the way that categorization of photos on Flickr are the result of collaborative filtering that extract meaning and order from the existing Web and how people interact with it.

In short, Web 3.0 is more human in its abilities, scope, responsiveness and modes of operation than the Web we are currently accustomed to. And given that marketing is an intensely human activity combining anticipation, communication and emotion, we have reason to hope that Web 3.0 will be ready for marketing too.

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