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The Next “.0”

Perhaps you don’t access the World Wide Web very often. Obviously, this is untrue because you’re reading this online. Therefore, you’re probably very familiar with the term Web 2.0. It’s geek-jargon lingo that encapsulates how technology, design, creativity, user collaboration and file sharing have evolved in the 21st century. The term was coined in 2004 by software maverick Tim O’Reilly at the first O’Reilly Media Web 2.0 Conference.

"Web 2.0 is the business revolution in the computer industry caused by the move to the Internet as platform, and an attempt to understand the rules for success on that new platform", O’Reilly said.

Before the 2.0 revolution, Web sites were simply one-way media outlets. Remember those dial-up days? Yawn. There was no emphasis on the interactive experience, which has become a hallmark of Web 2.0.

In the past five years, the overall user experience and the role the user actually plays in their experience, have become an infinitely greater priority for designers and developers.

So, what’s next-where does it go from here? Some of the Web’s founding fathers have gazed into the crystal ball about what’s in store.

Expert Predictions

In 2006, Tim Berners-Lee, the man credited with inventing the World Wide Web, was quoted as saying, "People keep asking what Web 3.0 is…I think you’ll have access to an unbelievable resource."

Tim made a strong and perhaps understated point. Experts predict the 3.0 upgrade will include the evolution of 3-D design, along with the rise of artificial intelligence in predicting user trends, patterns and habits.

Echoing those sentiments is Google CEO Eric Schmidt. While speaking at the Seoul Digital Forum in 2007, Schmidt was at asked to weigh in on the transition from 2.0 to 3.0.

"Web 3.0 will ultimately be seen as applications are pieced together," Schmidt said. "The applications are relatively small [and] can run on any device, PC or mobile phone-they’re very fast and customizable.

"Furthermore, the applications are distributed virally: literally by social networks, by e-mail," he said. "You won’t go to the store and purchase them. That’s a very different application model than we’ve ever seen in computing."

But it’s not just about creating a more pleasurable shopping experience or the ability to access your Facebook page from your sneakers. It also speaks of the transformation of the Web into an expansive database (i.e. World Wide Database) and how it could change the face of data architecture as we know it.

Web Sites = Web Service

The transition to a fitter, happier, more productive network also means Web sites will become Web services. So what? What does that mean to you? It means you might be privy to how a Web site exposes its information. And if you’re a developer, that’s a huge boon.

If a Web site’s information, or data, becomes open and accessible, software developers can take advantage of this information collectively. This would be the next step of "Webolution" from 1.0., 2.0 and so on. When that happens, Web 3.0 truly becomes a database-one that can be queried and remixed.

Where Can I Sign Up?

Well, you can’t. Chances are, we won’t know we’ve entered the 3.0 age until we’re waist deep in it. Or at least until we write an article telling you we’re there. And that might be a while.

On his blog, Tim O’Reilly wrote, "We’re a long way from the full realization of the potential of intelligent systems, and there will no doubt be a tipping point where the systems get smart enough that we’ll be ready to say this is qualitatively different. Let’s call it Web 3.0."

O’Reilly also summed up the overarching point of Web evolution with, "What good is collective intelligence if it doesn’t make us smarter?" And as the sharing of information, along with interactive design, architecture, usability and functionality proliferate into new and more accessible guises; we can expect a bright future indeed. With plenty of legal entanglement, of course.

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