How Web 3.0 Will Work

jumentousmanlyInternet and Web Development

Oct 21, 2013 (4 years and 2 months ago)

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How Web 3.0 Will Work

by
Jonathan Strickland



Yoshikazu Tsuno/AFP/
Getty Images

Will we view future versions of the Web through devices like this tiny head
-
mounted
display?

You've decided to go see a
movie

and grab a bite to eat afterward. You're in the mood for a
comedy and some incredibly spicy
Mexican food
. Booting up your
PC
, you open a Web browser
and head to
Google

to search for theater, movie and restaurant information. You need to know
which movies are playing in the theaters near you, so you spend some time reading short
descriptions of each film before making your choice. Also, you want to see which Mexican
rest
aurants are close to each of these theaters. And, you may want to check for customer reviews
for the restaurants. In total, you visit half a dozen Web sites before you're ready to head out the
door.

Some
Internet

experts believe the next generation of the Web
--

Web 3.0

--

will make tasks like
your search for movies and food faster and easier. Instead of multiple searches, you might type a
complex sentence or two in your Web 3
.0 browser, and the Web will do the rest. In our example,
you could type "I want to see a funny movie and then eat at a good Mexican restaurant. What are
my options?" The Web 3.0 browser will analyze your response, search the Internet for all
possible answ
ers, and then organize the results for you.


That's not all. Many of these experts believe that the Web 3.0 browser will act like a personal
assistant. As you search the Web, the browser learns what you are interested in. The more you
use the Web, the mor
e your browser learns about you and the less specific you'll need to be with
your questions. Eventually you might be able to ask your browser open questions like "where
should I go for lunch?" Your browser would consult its records of what you like and dis
like, take
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into account your current location and then suggest a list of restaurants.


To und
erstand where the Web is going, we need to take a quick look at where it's been. Keep
reading for a quick lesson on the evolution of the Web.

The Road to Web 3.0


YouTube is an example of a Web 2.0 site

Out of all the
Internet

buzzwords and jargon that have made the transition to the public
consciousness, "
Web 2.0
" might be the best known. Even though a lot of people have heard
about it, not many have any idea what Web 2.0 means. Some people claim that the term itself is
nothing more than a marketing ploy designed to convinc
e venture capitalists to invest millions of
dollars into Web sites. It's true that when Dale Dougherty of O'Reilly Media came up with the
term, there was no clear definition. There wasn't even any agreement about if there was a
Web
1.0
.

Other people insist that Web 2.0 is a reality. In brief, the characteristics of Web 2.0 include:



The ability for visitors to make changes to
Web pages
:
Amazon

allows visitors to post
product reviews. Using an online form, a visitor can add information to Amazon's pages
that future visitors will be able to read.



Using Web pages to link people to
other users:
Social networking

sites like
Facebook

and
MySpace

are popular in part because they make it easy for users to find each other and
keep in touch.



Fast and efficient ways to share content:
YouTube

is the perfect example. A
YouTube
member can create a video and upload it to the site for others to watch in less than an
hour.



New ways to get information: Today, Internet surfers can subscribe to a Web page's
Really Simple Syndication

(
RSS
) feeds and receive notifications of tha
t Web page's
updates as long as they maintain an Internet connection.

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Expanding access to the Internet beyond the computer: Many people access the Internet
through devices like
cell phone
s

or
video game consoles
; before long, some experts
expect that consumers will access the Internet through
television

sets and other devices.

Think of
Web 1.0

as a library. You can use it as a source of information, but you can't contribute
to or change the information in any way.
Web 2.0

is more like a big group of friends and
acquaintances. You can still use it to receive information, but you also contribute to the
conversation and make it a richer experience.

While there ar
e still many people trying to get a grip on Web 2.0, others are already beginning to
think about what comes next. What will

Web 3.0 be like? How different will it be from the Web
we use today? Will it be a revolutionary shift, or will it be so subtle that
we won't even notice the
difference?

What do Internet experts think the next generation of the World Wide Web will be like? Keep
reading to find out.

Web 3.0 Basics


©
iStockphoto
/dstephens

Planning a tropical getaway? Web 3.0 might help simplify your planning process.

Internet

experts think Web 3.0 is going to be like having a personal assistant who knows
practically everything about you and can access all the information on the Internet to answer any
question. Many compare Web 3.0 to a giant
database. While Web 2.0 uses the Internet to make
connections between people, Web 3.0 will use the Internet to make connections with
information. Some experts see Web 3.0 replacing the current Web while others believe it will
exist as a separate network.

It's easier to get the concept with an example. Let's say that you're thinking about going on a
vacation. You want to go someplace warm and tropical. You have set aside a budget of $3,000
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for your trip. You want a nice place to stay, but you don't want it
to take up too much of your
budget. You also want a good deal on a flight.

Your Life on the Web

If your Web 3.0 browser retrieves information for you based on your likes and dislikes, could
other people learn things about you that you'd rather keep private

by looking at your results?
What if someone performs an Internet search on you? Will your activities on the Internet become
public knowledge? Some people worry that by the time we have answers to these questions, it'll
be too late to do anything about it.

With the Web technology currently available to you, you'd have to do a lot of research to find the
best vacation options. You'd need to research potential destinations and decide which one is right
for you. You might visit two or three discount travel si
tes and compare rates for flights and hotel
rooms. You'd spend a lot of your time looking through results on various
search engine

results
pages. The entire process could take several hour
s.

According to some Internet experts, with Web 3.0 you'll be able to sit back and let the Internet
do all the work for you. You could use a search service and narrow the parameters of your
search. The browser program then gathers, analyzes and presents th
e data to you in a way that
makes comparison a snap. It can do this because Web 3.0 will be able to understand information
on the Web.

Right now, when you use a Web search engine, the engine isn't able to really understand your
search. It looks for Web pag
es that contain the
keywords

found in your search terms. The search
engine can't tell if the Web page is actually relevant for your search. It can only tell that the
keyword appears on the Web page. For example, if you searched for the term "
Saturn
," you'd end
up with results for Web pages about the planet and others about the
car

manufacturer.

A Web 3.0 search engine could find not only the keywords

in your search, but also interpret the
context

of your request. It would return relevant results and suggest other content related to your
search terms. In our vacation example, if you typed "tropical vacation destinations under $3,000"
as a search reques
t, the Web 3.0 browser might include a list of fun activities or great restaurants
related to the search results. It would treat the entire Internet as a massive database of
information available for any query.

How might Web 3.0 do this? Read on to find ou
t.

Web 3.0 Approaches

5



©
iStockphoto
/ktsimage

Web 3.0 will likely plug into your individual tastes and browsing habits.

You never know how future technology will eventually turn out. In the case of Web 3.0, most
Internet

experts agree about its general traits. They believe that Web 3.0 will pr
ovide users with
richer and more relevant experiences. Many also believe that with Web 3.0, every user will have
a unique Internet
profile

based on that user's browsing history. Web 3.0 will use this profile to
tailor the browsing experience to each indivi
dual. That means that if two different people each
performed an Internet
search

with the same keywords using the same service, they'd receive
different results determined by their individu
al profiles.

The technologies and
software

required for this kind of application aren't yet mature. Services
like
TiVO

and
Pandora

provide individualized content based on user input, but they both rely on
a trial
-
and
-
error approach that isn't as efficient as what the experts say Web 3.0 will be. More
i
mportantly, both TiVO and Pandora have a limited scope
--

television shows and music,
respectively
--

whereas Web 3.0 will involve all the information on the Internet.

Some experts believe that the foundation for Web 3.0 will be
application programming
int
erfaces

(
APIs
). An API is an interface designed to allow developers to create applications
that take advantage of a certain set of resources. Many Web 2.0 sites include APIs that give
programmers access to the sites' unique data and capabilities. For examp
le,
Facebook's

API
allows developers to create programs that use Facebook as a staging ground for games, quizzes,
product reviews and more.

Widgets

Widgets are small applications that people c
an insert into Web pages by copying and embedding
lines of code into a Web page's code. They can be games, news feeds, video players or just about
anything else. Some Internet prognosticators believe that Web 3.0 will let users combine widgets
together to
make mashups by just clicking and dragging a couple of icons into a box on a Web
page. Want an application that shows you where news stories are happening? Combine a news
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feed icon with a
G
oogle Earth

icon and Web 3.0 does the rest. How? Well, no one has quite
figured that part out yet.

One Web 2.0 trend that could help the development of Web 3.0 is the
mashup
. A mashup

is the
combination of two or more applications into a single application. For example, a developer
might combine a program that lets users review restaurants with
Google

Maps. The new mashup
app
lication could show not only restaurant reviews, but also map them out so that the user could
see the restaurants' locations. Some Internet experts believe that creating mashups will be so easy
in Web 3.0 that anyone

will be able to

do it.

Other experts th
ink that Web 3.0 will start fresh. Instead of using HTML as the basic coding
language, it will rely on some new
--

and unnamed
--

language. These experts suggest it might be
easier to start from scratch rather than try to change the current Web. However, t
his version of
Web 3.0 is so theoretical that it's practically impossible to say how it will work.

The man responsible for the World Wide Web has his own theory of what the future of the Web
will be. He calls it the
Semantic Web
, and many Internet experts borrow heavily from his work
when talking about Web 3.0. What exactly is the Semantic Web? Keep reading to find out.

Making a Semantic Web


Catrina Genovese/
Getty Images

Tim Berners
-
Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web

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Tim Berners
-
Lee invented the World Wide Web in 1989. He created it as an interface for the
I
nternet and a way for people to share information with one another. Berners
-
Lee disputes the
existence of
Web 2.0
, calling it nothing more than meaningless jargon [source:
Register
].
Berners
-
Lee maintains that he intended the World Wide Web to do all the things that Web 2.0 is
supposed to do.

Berners
-
Lee's vision of

the future Web is similar to the concept of Web 3.0. It's called the
Semantic Web
. Right now, the Web's structure is geared for humans. It's easy for us to visit a
Web page

and understand what it's all about. Computers can't do that. A
search engine

might be
able to scan for keywords, but it can't understand how

those keywords are used in the context of
the page.

With the Semantic Web, computers will scan and interpret information on Web pages using
software agents
. These software agents will be programs that crawl through the Web, searching
for relevant informa
tion. They'll be able to do that because the Semantic Web will have
collections of information called
ontologies
. In terms of the Internet, an ontology is a file that
defines the relationships among a group of terms. For example, the term "cousin" refers t
o the
familial relationship between two people who share one set of grandparents. A Semantic Web
ontology might define each familial role like this:



Grandparent: A direct ancestor two generations removed from the subject



Parent: A direct ancestor one gener
ation removed from the subject



Brother or sister: Someone who shares the same parent as the subject



Nephew or niece: Child of the brother or sister of the subject



Aunt or uncle: Sister or brother to a parent of the subject



Cousin: child of an aunt or uncle

of the subject

For the Semantic Web to be effective, ontologies have to be detailed and comprehensive. In
Berners
-
Lee's concept, they would exist in the form of
metadata
. Metadata is information
included in the code for Web pages that is invisible to huma
ns, but readable by computers.

Constructing ontologies takes a lot of work. In fact, that's one of the big obstacles the Semantic
Web faces. Will people be willing to put in the effort required to make comprehensive ontologies
for their Web sites? Will th
ey maintain them as the Web sites change? Critics suggest that the
task of creating and maintaining such complex files is too much work for most people.

On the other hand, some people really enjoy labeling or
tagging

Web objects and information.
Web tags categorize the tagged object or information. Several
blogs

include a tag option, making
it easy to classify journal entries under specific topics.
Photo sharing

sites like Flickr allow users
to tag pictures.
Google

even has turned it into a game: Google Image Labeler pits two

people
against each other in a labeling contest. Each player tries to create the largest number of relevant
tags for a series of images. According to some experts, Web 3.0 will be able to search tags and
labels and return the most relevant results back to

the user. Perhaps Web 3.0 will combine
Berners
-
Lee's concept of the Semantic Web with Web 2.0's tagging culture.

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Even though Web 3.0 is more theory than reality, that hasn't stopped people from guessing what
will come next. Keep reading to learn about the

far
-
flung future of the Web.

Beyond Web 3.0


David Paul Morris/
Getty Images

Paul Otellini, CEO and President of Intel, discusses the increasing importanc
e of mobile devices
on the Web at the 2008 International Consumer Electronics Show.

Whatever we call the next generation of the Web, what will come after it? Theories range from
conservative predictions to guesses that sound more like science fiction films
.

Here are just a few:



According to technology expert and entrepreneur Nova Spivack, the development of the
Web moves in 10
-
year cycles. In the Web's first decade, most of the development
focused on the back end, or
infrastructure
, of the Web. Programmers created the
protocols

and code languages we use to make Web pages. In the second decade, focus
shifted to the front end and the era of
Web 2.0

began. Now people use Web pages as
platforms for other applications. They also create mashups and experiment with ways to
make Web experiences more interactive. We're at the end of the Web 2.0 cycle now. The
next cycle will be Web

3.0, and the focus will shift back to the back end. Programmers
will refine the
Internet's

infrastructure to support the advanced capabilities of Web 3.0
browsers. Once that

phase ends, we'll enter the era of
Web 4.0
. Focus will return to the
front end, and we'll see thousands of new programs that use Web 3.0 as a foundation
[source:
Nova Spivack
].



The Web will evolve into a three
-
dimensional environment. Rather than a Web 3.0, we'll
see a Web 3D. Com
bining
virtual reality

elements with the persistent online worlds of
massively multiplayer online roleplaying games

(MM
ORPGs), the Web could become a
digital landscape that incorporates the illusion of depth. You'd navigate the Web either
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from a first
-
person perspective or through a digital representation of yourself called an
avatar

(to learn more about an avatar's perspe
ctive, read
How the Avatar Machine
Works
).



The Web will build on developments in
distributed computing

and lead to true
artificial intelligence
. In distributed computing, several computers tackle a large
processing job. Each computer handles a small part of the overall task. Some people
believe the Web will be able to think by distributing the workload across thousan
ds of
computers and referencing deep ontologies. The Web will become a giant brain capable
of analyzing data and extrapolating new ideas based off of that information.



The Web will extend far beyond
compu
ters

and
cell phones
. Everything from watches to
television

sets to clothing will connect to the Internet. Use
rs will have a constant
connection to the Web, and vice versa. Each user's software agent will learn more about
its respective user by electronically observing his or her activities. This might lead to
debates about the balance between individual privacy a
nd the benefit of having a
personalized Web browsing experience.



The Web will merge with other forms of entertainment until all distinctions between the
forms of media are lost.
Radio

programs
, television shows and feature films will rely on
the Web as a delivery system.

It's too early to tell which (if any) of these future versions of the Web will come true. It may be
that the real future of the Web is even more extravagant than the most extr
eme predictions. We
can only hope that by the time the future of the Web gets here, we can all agree on what to call it.

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