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