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   Frederik Cordes

The rise and fall of Web 3.0

In recent months, a blossoming trend has gained popularity among proclaimed online pioneers, social media experts and the likes. A trend to summarize the latest developments of the Internet into the simplistic and rather confusing term “Web 3.0″.

Among the first efforts to represent a new Internet era was Dan Gilmour in 2005 who stated that the emerging Web 3.0 would allow that “machines talk as much to each other as humans talk to machines or other humans”. Two years later Jason Calacanis tried to sum up Web 3.0 as “…the creation of high-quality content and services produced by gifted individuals using Web 2.0 technology as an enabling platform”. No, not an entirely clear definition, when trying to kick off a revolution.

A notable development came in May of this year when Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg held their D: All Things Digital conference. In their associated article named “Welcome to Web 3.0” Swisher and Mossberg defined the Web 3.0 as “the real arrival, after years of false predictions, of the thin client, running clean, simple software, against cloud-based data and services”. These developments were further illustrated through the steps taken by iPhone and iPod Touch – reminding the authors of “the formative years of the PC and PC software, in the early 1980s, or the early days of the Web in the mid-1990s”. Even if the iPhone represents a radical product innovation, it would hardly justify the introduction of a new era.

So, why does it not make sense calling the new Internet “Web 3.0″?

The Internet does not work with dividable versioning like e.g. the Mozilla Firefox browser, the Windows operating system or other marketed products do.

On the contrary, the Internet is a dynamic mass of ever-increasing information and communication changing on a constant flowing basis rather than in separated releases.

No, you probably never heard someone say: “Oh, did you download the new Internet?”.

Then why are people still calling it Web 3.0?

In short, to create a joint reference point for easing the understanding of current significant trends. Problematic here is if the laid out definitions struggle to differentiate themselves from definitions of previous epochs and the “seminal moment” fails to inspire to action and rather leads to confusion.

Additionally, being a spokesperson for something as powerful as the “new version of the Internet” can be a noteworthy business, which can help you sell books, conference tickets and consulting hours.

What should we call it instead?

When disembarking the versioning trail, other approaches include naming by year (chronological) or naming by significant developments (subject-based).

In arguing for the former approach, Robert Scoble has taken on a leading role to spread the word of the “2010 Web” and has even listed a number of suggestions for what it is.

  1. Well, at least I know I’m not nuts. The definitions of Web 3.0 make my head hurt. This type of branding does nothing except stamp up-and-coming technolgies as “hip and happening” and therefore media worthy. It’s all about buzz.

    Gosh, I’m being a touch cynical, eh?:-)

    The last I heard, Web 3.0 was the “semantic web.” Maybe that’s what Gillmor was getting at.

    Comment by Rashunda

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