Web 3.0


Over the past three weeks, Web 3.0's stock has quadrupled on the BWAH* index. I feel a bit out of character as I'm not particularly cynical about the Web, version 3.0 . Actually, the more this buzzword has developed, the more madly I fall in love with it.

(*Note: BWAH is the acronym for the  Buzzword, and Hype's index -- a key indicator of the overall health of market-driven buzzwords)

As far as I know, Dan Gillmor was the first to seriously use the term -- and in April of 2005, no less. Dan writes:

"The emerging web is one in which the machines talk as much to each other as humans talk to machines or other humans. As the net is the rough equivalent of a computer operating system, we’re learning how to program the web itself.

An operating system offers programmers something called an "applications programming interface," or API. The APIs are essentially shortcuts for programmers who want to use underlying capabilities of the operating system, such as displaying text or printing, and they help products interoperate with each other.

The electric outlet in the wall is, to stretch the metaphor, an API. A manufacturer making a product that uses electricity can equip it with a plug that fits into the socket."

Like web 2.0, web 3.0 is a genric and frankly meaningless term that serves as a useful catch all for what would otherwise be a dishoveled rat's nest of inter-connected, and inter-dependent trends, technologies, and goals.

I like to avoid buzzwords, but in this case, the buzzword serves as a useful chocolate coating for historically hard-to-communicate ideas like, say,  the semantic web. 

Tell the laymen you are going to talk about the semantic web, and they will probably ask if you might have a pillow for them to rest their weary heads on. Tell someone you are talking about Web 3.0 and they'll be interested.

The majority of humans shy away from technical terms, and instead think of everything software related in version numbers, OS 10, Photoshop 8 -- we use the term web 3.0 with that pervasive habit in mind. The alternative would be to call web 3.0 "something different that's beginning to take shape on the web -- some beast that has been born from XML, open source, APIs, social web apps, increased capital in the sector, the semantic web taking form... ::YAWN::"


Bwah! Where was I?

Notes on the Eve of the Final Release of Web 2.0

In retrospect, it seems web 2.0 was about making the internet usable, USEFUL, and sexy. Meme map's be damned, I think that's what 2.0 was about. The winners of 2.0 are clearly youtube, 37signals, myspace, flickr, and del.icio.us.

What's strange about 3.0 is that there's probably not going to be very many clear winners. There will be clear losers, however. Web 3.0 is not about any particular approach, or product -- its about whether your part of the web can talk with everything else on the web. So with that said, myspace comes up as candidate numero uno for failure in 3.0. The asshats in charge of that operation actively refuse to provide API's -- not merely because their platform is likely to be FUBAR of the 9th degree (FUBAR codebases can't have an API by default) -- but out of sheer cockiness and lust for ad-dollars.

Amusingly enough, big media -- who's fetish for ad-dollars would make Larry Flint blush -- is likely to lose even more in 3.0.


The dream of a semantic web will be to WEB 3.0 as AJAX and 1.8em sized tahoma headers are to WEB 2.0.

The stars of 3.0 will be a lot more Tim Berners-Leeish , than the all too familiar two-dot-O Jason Friedesque-I-am-a-CSS-rockstar-and-dress-hip-don't-talk-to-me-cause-i-know-zeldman asshats (each and everyone of you types will die cold, broke, and alone). Increasingly, I'm finding the web-2.0-make-everything-the-ipod-and-or-flickr-of-whatever-you're-doing is a ghost dance.


My guess is that XML is going to be the new CSS in 3.0. But, unlike CSS in the wild (with IE6 vs firefox vs safari), non-programmers will be the ones who drive innovation. And innovation is going to be about schemas -- not Holly hacks. 


Wrapping up these semi-drunken thoughts: 3.0 is about websites written in different programming languages, different frameworks, with different data schemas being able to talk to one another. 3.0 is about having enough meta data for a search engine to differenate between a concerned bystander saying "I saw her crack baby", and a sexually frustrated 14 year old bragging, "I saw her crack, baby".

Remember the Star Ship Enterprise's computer (for the dorks, I'm talking about NCC-1701-D, not 1701, or 1701-A)? You can ask it "Computer who is Joe Schmoe?", and the computer provides a correct answer. Even when there are 2 million registered Joe Schmoes in its database -- it knows which one you are asking about because of context -- that is web 3.0 -- and that is all the rambling I can muster for one night.