Welcome to Smart Web

February 24, 2009

It might happen in the future, but we aren’t there yet. Human 2.0, an integrating of the mechanical and the human, is only but a far off dream; however, we do have another 2.0—Web 2.0. Dominated by the fast growth of largely unprofitable social utilities and networks that use advertising as their dominant source of revenue, Web 2.0 is coming or, perhaps, has already come to a close.

Call it what you’d like but Web 3.0 is now on the rise. It is nearly impossible to find a generally accepted definition of Web 3.0 (except perhaps that is after Web 2.0). After looking at a number of definitions, the following seems to be the least ambiguous: “Web 3.0 is defined as the creation of high-quality content and services produced by gifted individuals using Web 2.0 technology as an enabling platform” (See Web 3.0, the official definition). If this is the case, Web 3.0 should be a welcome sight for all that wish to use the digital to forward a democratic agenda. Web 3.0 allows for and could require the validation of statements and “throttles the ‘wisdom of the crowds’ from turning into the ‘madness of the mobs’.”

From the application-based work I did at SauNau, it is clear that there is more to Web 3.0 than is included in the above definition. Most notably, integration and individual customization through flexible platforms are key aspects of the developing web.

Integration

Links from one website to another is one of the most basic and commonly practiced forms of web integration; however, this is not a true form of integration at least in the Web 3.0 sense. Integration only occurs when two or more sources or channels of information are simultaneously and seamlessly presented. A great development towards actual integration recently occurred through Mozilla’s Ubiquity, an “experiment into connecting the Web with language in an attempt to find new user interfaces that could make it possible for everyone to do common Web tasks more quickly and easily.” Integration like this will make the Web tamer and more efficient as users attempt to filter out a barrage of useless information and sites.

Customization

In “The Daily We”, Sunstein comments on a potential downside of the segmentation of the Internet to meet individual interests. He postulates that group polarization will occur as people only expose themselves to a specific perspective on any given issue. While group polarization can only occur under certain constraints that aren’t delved into in the Sunstein article, he does raise a valuable concern.

Sunstein’s approach to the issue is only half the picture. Smart sites now modify their pages to meet the individual wants and needs of their users. It makes sense for companies to do this. A simple way to keep people on your site is to present them with exactly what they want to see. Through Web 3.0, this is becoming more and more common. Combining Sustein’s analysis and Web 3.0 capabilities, there is even greater risk that individuals will only see one side of an issue.

– Parker Noren

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