These days we virtually feed on jargons. Jargons such as Web 2.0, Internet 2.0, etc are floating since quite many days. Sparsely we hear about Web 3.0. In these technology-filled days, it has become very difficult to predict which hype is ‘the real hype‘ and which one is the future. It can, quite realistically, be expected that Web 4.0, Web 5.0 and so on would be realized on one fine day. But merely giving numbers to the transitions and/or creating excitement about the jargons might not help the technology domain and its users. There has to be some serious money behind the transition; and yes, lots of jobs are put on stake. Before it appears to you that my words are vapourware, let me take a disciplined approach, through the evolution of Web itself –
To my understanding, ‘Web 2.0’ has more to do with collaboration and cooperation. Wikipedia, Orkut, Citeulike, etc are classic examples of its popularity and power, I would term this as ‘Creation of Information Wealth through Collaboration’. The technologies remained same, more or less. The effect was multi-fold in terms of usage. ‘Rich Internet Applications’ etc would add more value such that users would experience the Web phenomenon differently, like an advanced extension of Web 1.0. Network mash-ups are creating some excitement too. However it is not changing the paradigm. ‘Web 2.0’ is still happening and not yet happened to its fullest.
Before we discuss ‘Web 3.0’, there is ‘Web 2.5′ somewhere in between. Web 1.0’ and ‘Web 2.0’ are accomplished mainly using desktops and laptops. Laptops did bring excitement but not completely. What they did not bring was ‘Pervasiveness‘. The laptop users do not keep their laptops for ‘On’ forever, whilst their ‘mobile phones’. Bingo! In my opinion ‘Web 2.5 = Mobile Phone + Web 2.0’. A much anticipated and recently launched mobile phone device and alike has huge potential to drive such ‘Web 2.5’. Some of the unthought applications on this platform can change the way we work, forever
Now comes ‘Web 3.0, The ambitious’. It is called as ‘Semantic Web’ and/or ‘Geospatial Web’. The word ‘Semantic’ can safely assumed synonymous to ‘Meaningful’; and it is meaningful to machines. Humans effectively make use of Web, which machines can not. For example, it is very difficult (or there is no way) currently for machines (i.e. software programs) to find out information about a song being played on my computer by ‘searching’ the Web. Information needs to be put on the Web such that software programs can understand, filter, process and represent it for humans. Another example would be – Show all 2BHK apartments in my vicinity of 5 Km and that are available on rent, between Rs. 5000 and Rs. 10000. ‘Resource Description Framework‘ is targeted to be a framework to describe domain-specific ontologies. Experts across the World are conducting their research to figure out various possibilities of such ontologies, to become as guidelines. This requires mammoth efforts. But once accomplished, the site developers would need to make sure that their sites are following these guidelines. Much hyped Artificially Intelligent ‘Information Agents’ would then crawl over such ontologies to get some meaningful work done for their ‘masters’. Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia, has a dream to create open source search engine, which might act as prototype of this next generation Semantic Web. In short, there is long way to go.
Now about ‘Web 3.5’. Imagine your car talks to Internet. Your home contains digital devices that are online and available on mobile phone to be controlled. Your online itinerary is following you all the time, with self-generated reminders and alerts depending upon where you are.
And ‘Web 4.0’? I am stretching my imagination to be called as Science Fiction, to certain extent. Imagine your car comes to you from the parking slot, with click of a button. It does not matter whether the button is installed on mobile phone, your wrist-watch or installed in your brain. 🙂
To put simply, in my opinion –
Web 2.0 = Web 1.0 + Collaboration + Rich interfaces + Mash-ups
Web 2.5 = Web 2.0 + Mobile computing
Web 3.0 = Web 2.0 + Semantics
Web 3.5 = Web 3.0 + Pervasiveness
Web 4.0 = Web 3.0 + Science Fiction 🙂