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Dec 13, 2008

Web 3.0 Has Arrived - Cloud Computing, Web Services, Microformats, Semantic Web, and Mashup Demystified

Despite the plethora of acronyms that confuse - and an aweful economy, the reality is that Web 3.0 has arrived. 

Let's simplify.

Web 1.0, 2.0, 3.0

I've been involved with the Internet since 1968, at MIT, through the Multics project. The new Internet emerged in 1992 when HTTP, HTML and early browsers first emerged. I developed one of the first JSON projects in 2001. Despite the many possible definitions of web history, let's simplify the progress.
  • Web 1.0 used servers to host pages and intelligence. Browser software had little intelligence. Users benefit from easy access.
  • Web 2.0 transferred knowledge from servers to intelligent browsers that managed the presentation. Acronyms like AJAX, JSON, XML, and others described data transfer and control protocols. Users benefit from more interesting and varied user experiences.
  • Web 3.0 allows integration of data from many servers to the intelligent browser. Users will begin to see new services - that are no longer restricted to the content of one server provider.
Server-centric, client-centric, to multi-server integration - that's the gist of web progress.

Free Services Supporting Web 3.0

Thousands of services have emerged to support web 3.0. The trend is toward free services.
  • Yahoo, Google, and Microsoft have opened their search robots for use by applications. This includes the treasure trove of pages, images, videos, music, and other data that are scanned by their army of robots and stored in their databases.
  • Microformats define information about people, companies, events, reviews, locations, and other structured data. Data is no longer locked into a database. It's available as data hidden in pages that robots can understand, extract, and process. Semantic web - it's the intelligent inference to deliver more value to users at websites.
  • Opensocial attempts to open the information about people, friends, and photos - locked behind garden-wall environments like FriendFeed, Myspace, and LinkedIn - available for use on any website. 
  • Other projects attempt to open databases of product information - stored at Amazon, eBay, and other locations - for use in web 3.0 websites.
  • Cloud computing offers services such that site creators no longer need computers as servers, databases to hold content, and sites to hold pages. Services such as Youtube host video, FlickR or Picasa hosts images, and Blogger or Wordpress hosts pages. All the parts needed for a web 3.0 website reside with various public providers. RSS feeds, a simplified web service, are the public transport for moving data from one server to the browser.
Where's the Web 3.0 Challenge?

The challenge for web 3.0 development is the overwhelming wealth of options - too much data, too many services, and too many options to consume. We're drowing in the plethora of sources.

This also defines the opportunity. Hundreds of language groups, thousands of topics, and hundreds of services - millions of niche communities can be better served. 

The crucial need is integration glue - what the industry calls mashups. Mashups include the software and expertise that access the available services and make it simple for users to deploy new websites. Unfortunately, those with enterprise integration experience know that integration can be the most expensive part of the puzzle. 

Fortunately, universities are graduating thousands of students who have the expertise to mashup websites and services.

Early Web 3.0 Services

Today, we see the rapid emergence of early web 3.0 services, both for desktops and mobile devices. Developers need little equipment, development tools, or capital - just energy and creative thinking. 

Are we headed to a recession? or a new renaissance of creativity? 

What do you think?


  1. Another good explanation on Web 3.0, thanks

  2. Thanks for the description, very clear and easy to understand. At least I think the answer to your question is yes, and yes. Recession coming, as well as a renaissance again on the web.

    Two things I wonder about though:

    - needing a developer to carry out the mash-up is still a hurdle for most people with an idea. For me the web has already become more idea-friendly in that it's a doddle even for the least tech-savvy to bang up a website in under a minute, but will become fascinating when it's possible for absolutely anyone to publish their idea, at any level of complexity, in a fully-functioning and designed format by simple point-and-click. When will this be possible?

    - The trend towards free. This in itself is disruptive and interesting but at the end of the day someone will have to get paid in some fashion. For instance, if services are being pulled from many servers how do the creators of the services deliver value for the server providers? I guess traffic, information or flat fee are viable options. Flat fee isn't free though, so the providers of the services have to go advertising route, bundle or charge a fee themselves. Does anyone have ideas on different models for this or on how companies delivering the cloud plan to operate?

    Also because we are moving towards free won't there be a tendency towards bundling offers in an effort to charge for something, in itself maybe reinforcing the mash-up concept? If so, where do we go after that? Anyone have any opinions on this?
    Thanks for the post,

  3. "Fortunately, universities are graduating thousands of students who have the expertise to mashup websites and services."

    I'm in disagreement with this one. Having been a fairly recent graduate myself, I don't feel that this kind of curriculum is offered too often. Many CS courses are still theory and deeper-level offerings. Web mashups are something you learn on the job. I'd wager that some graduates have the expertise to do this, but thousands per year is a little far-fetched.

  4. AnonymousJuly 17, 2009

    this is another good way how to handle with the term Web 3.0. Creating something like MyInternet done via merging all data/services/whatever together seems to be the challenge of the Web 3.0 That will be the way how to solve the issue I called Total Visibility.


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