Web 3.0 is dead, isn’t it?

Gartner Research suggests in its e-commerce hype cycle 2010 that IT leaders should stop using the term Web 3.0 as it is ambigious, misleading and thus inappropriate. Anthony Bradley of Gartner argues along the same lines on his blog. Indeed, when you think of it all kinds of emerging web themes come to mind:

  • semantic web: the internet of things; objects connect and communicate
  • augmented reality: enriching the physical world with computed information through devices like data glasses
  • cloud computing: seamless integration of thousands of computers into a cloud that offers massive computing power
  • ubiquitous computing: computing devices are everywhere, thus intelligence and information about everything is everywhere
  • virtual worlds: highly interactive massive multiuser online environments that depict reality and everything imaginable and programmeable beyond it
  • mobile web: the web-to-go usually consumed by always-online smart phones or other mobile devices

But so what? When you look at Web 2.0 – which Gartner says is a legitimate label – you also see a lot of applications that are very different from each other: blogs, mashups, wikis, social networks and so on. The idea behind Web 2.0 was to give these new kinds of applications a label. That label summarized what it is all about: participation, community and openness. It put us, you and me, the private beings back to the game. Web 2.0 meant a huge liberation from the business-centered web that seemed to exist solely for the purpose of marketing, selling and trading stuff. The one-way communication of Web 1.0 came to an end with the advancement and combination of existing technologies like javascript, markup languages and network protocols.

And today? Again, we see the advancement and combination of technologies that have been advanced and combined before – and we call it Web 3.0. It is already a label that summarizes what it is all about: integration, interaction and ubiquity of technology in our daily lives, private and business. Although Web 3.0 does not come as a big wave like Web 2.0 did, it still means big change in almost all aspects of life. Just because we now see it coming does not mean that the changes ahead mean small improvements to the existing. No, they certainly mean major changes.

Surely, in business a distinction between the underlying concepts and technologies is vital. But the Web 3.0 label will continue to exist, even in business. And to some extend that is a good thing since it signals the relevance and the interdependence of these concepts and technologies. Of course, if IT leaders want to spend big money on that label they should understand what exactly they are paying for. The first thing to understand is that Web 3.0 is a box full of different things, just like a toolbox holds a lot of equipment. And that means, you have to consciously decide what tool exactly you want to use to get your job done.


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