Web 2.0 is dead, long live Web 3.0?


Jeffrey Zeldman proposes a cute game of “find the differences” between Web 2.0 and Web 1.0 using the pretext of Google’s buying YouTube. While this is of marginal interest of us Second Life users and Metaverse wannabes, one should also learn some of the lessons from this merger:

  • YouTube is a 60-person company. Like Linden Lab, they did not make a profit. Still, they have millions and millions of users.
  • Google seems to be interested in driving the “Web 2.0 Bubble”. They bought YouTube not for the technology (after all, Google Video, already deployed, is a competing product, and one where legitimate videos are actually for sale — unlike YouTube’s approach), but for their market and user base.
  • Google is interested in leveraging the copyright wars. The more “borderline” companies they aggregate under themselves, the more tremendous Google’s impact is going to be on the lawsuits. In the end, Google might be so huge that the whole industry relying on their copyrights to get royalties to survive will need to strike a deal outside the court — effectively allowing Google to freely allow the distribution of copyrighted material, by being exempted from controlling the content they carry (which makes sense).

So, where does that leave us? With the impending concept that there is “Nothing else” but “social webs” in Web 2.0, but that they’re consolidating. I mean, just take a look on what the social Web is about:

  • sharing texts
  • sharing images
  • sharing music
  • sharing video
  • sharing contacts

So we have listed all possible media, list the word “shared” before it, and we’ve covered the whole spectrum of possible Web 2.0 applications. Also, we’ve placed the human factor in there: sharing contacts.

Is that all?

One might argue that people might get more clever and think about new things to share (Concepts? Ideas? But these are also “texts” or eventually “texts plus images”). But at this moment people are just thinking about new ways to share things — not new things to share. Sure, a blog can be reinvented a billion times; a serach engine can look like Digg or Google — both radically different approaches to the same thing — but it’ll still be “a tool for searching shared context”. Even rating is a form of sharing information.

But that’s all there is. Tools can get better and better, and people can have cleverer and cooler approaches to do the same thing, but… there is nothing new being generated. More shared content does not necessarily equate with better (or more important!) content.

In my mind, I see a roadblock ahead. At some point, all the industry giants will own all possible concepts of “sharing content”, and there will be nothing more to do except to join them. People will launch the new way-cool gadgetry thingy on a web site just for the purpose of getting bought by one of the giants. In a way: we’re talking about the bubble again. But this time, it’s so more limited.

We will be talking about millions of users, sure. Millions of users sharing content. Complex interconnections among all those millions of users. But… for what? What exactly do we achieve having so much shared content?

And more important than that — what will we do with it?

Like everyone else, I love to spend an hour or so watching things randomly on YouTube. It’s pure entertainment, and much more fun than, say, watch TV. I like to hop here and there through the blogosphere. I spend some time on forums, blogs, and even on the odd “social corners” just to randomly see pictures of people doing amazing things. But… yes, well, it’s entertainment. It’s not culture; it’s not art; it’s not even information. It’s clever entertainment but not much more — except marginally so in some cases.

And it’s definitely not business, which still is the driving force behind the Internet, even if so many would like to claim otherwise. Sure, one might claim that Amazon and eBay have very successfully merged Web 1.0 commerce with Web 2.0 social networking. These are the best known examples, but I’m sure people will be able to get much more.

Now, enter the Metaverse. I won’t claim if the Metaverse is going to be a Second Life-compatible
metaverse or not. All I know is that we have now a working definition of “Metaverse”:

  • It will allow crowdsourcing of shared content
  • It will encourage business to develop
  • It will develop on top of social networks

I know — this is hardly what Wikipedia has to say about the Metaverse. But in a sense, if one day people really define Web 3.0 as being the Metaverse, at least we can set matters straight: Web 1.0 gave us a way to promote information as well as business; Web 2.0 gave us social networks and shared content; Web 3.0 will enable both to merge together (1 + 2 = 3 🙂 ). In addition, it’ll also be in 3D, which is the best way to interact with people and not simply with “content about people”.

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  • Torley

    This is so visionary, Gwyn. Really, by now, a book of essays you should publish.

    In some way (chunky but sounds easy enough), I think of the progression as Things + Places + People.

    Much has been said about presenting Things in Places (3D space) makes it more memorable for People to find, access, and remember. Hopefully we have better search means than that, because we all know how many people have misplaced their keys. 🙂

    You should publish a list of your fave YouTube videos — I don’t see you have any faves on your YT profile.

    I do think sharing raw (as opposed to refined and intended-to-be-published-as-is) content does help with the *new* being generated. Mash-up culture, for example, and different from sharing music is sharing sounds, raw samples which are Creative Commons-licensed.

    I’m still surprised in this day and age there aren’t more prominent music collaboration tools over the Internet which are easy to use. I remember when Cubase’s Rocket networks came out, but that still appears very much obscure.

    If we can get latencies down more reliably, more Internet jam sessions — not just artists in the same room playing on a single music URL in SL, but artists across the globe really boogeyin’ together — it will be truely exciting. (And as of now, will likely require usage of external tools before outputting to an MP3 stream, but still, it’s promising…)

  • Watch this space for a “SL Flickr” version… with all the tagging and social networking it encompasses, of course… but within the metaverse also known as Second Life 😉

    So, instead of “emulating” Web 2.0, we can use Web 3.0 to subsume Web 2.0. Hehe. Well, it’s much harder to do for videos, of course, but Hiro tells us that Sony BMG might have something like that done for audio…

    Ah, and I tend to forget to add videos to favourites on YouTube. It’s my fault really. The same happens to me when I forget to add tags on del.icio.us…

  • Extropia DaSilva

    People may be coming up with terms like web 3.0 but I can’t help but think it’s far too early to be using such terms. How can you run web 3.0 on Internet 1.0?

    We are prototyping web 2.0 at the moment, but the infrastructure is not geared toward true socialization. It’s going to take an evolutionary convergence of electronics and optics (lasers on top of chips to replace copper pins with streams of photons, all-optical networks in which thousands of colors of light travel along a single fibre, that sort of thing) if we are to marry petascale computing capability to the successor of today’s handheld device.

    Once the internet is acting as a free-thinking entity capable of introspecting upon all human-created knowledge residing on the web, and creating new ideas and strategies that transform our thinking, once it is linked to trillions of sensors around the globe that give it instant knowledge of the world, right down to the condition of your own biomachhine..THEN we can truly claim to have achieved built the global brain and Web 2.0.

    Web 3.0 would require a demonstration that we have mastered nanotechnology. That would require Von Neuman factories converting the asteroid belt into robots that dismantle the planets, convert the raw material into computronium that’s arranged in a series of shells, with the inner one powered by the Sun’s total output and the others running off of the waste heat from the next in.

    The computational capacity difference between a true web 3.0-capable ‘Internet’ (a ‘Matrioska brain’ that uses the resources of the solar system) is ten million billion times GREATER than the DIFFERENCE between a human and a nematode.

    That means for us to grasp web 3.0 would be as likely as bacteria understanding today’s Internet. But we can try, I suppose;)

    Extro- still mad as a magpie.

  • An SL Flickr ? Whatever do you mean by that Gwyn ? 😀

    I am of the opinion that this Web 1.0 vs Web 2.0 stuff is utter nonsense.

    Web 2.0 is just the way Web 1.0 should’ve been done, had we known what the technology was capable of.

    Web 3.0 is also nonsense.

    Web 3.D however isn’t.

    And even then, Web 3.D won’t be that much of a leap. Just organising data in a 3 Dimensional way.

    See Second Life and that episode of Futurama where Leela takes Fry onto the Internet for examples.

    DO NOT use Julian Lombardi’s project as an example of the 3D Web, since as near as I can tell that was just organising the 2D Web in a 3D space. With extra bells and whistles.

  • The primary purpose of networking computers is to share resources. I can’t begin to count the number of times that’s said in class or the number of students who lose sight of it before the end of term.

    Very nice article Gwen, I’ve enjoyed reading it and the associated comments.

  • I think you hit web 2.0 on the head with sharing, but there is also the big thing with being more open in how data is shared with server communications. A lot of services out there are now making raw data openly available to other systems. In addition, some of them are allowing anyone to interact with that data via web services, soap, rest, xml-rpc, and other protocols.

    It’s just that people see the visual part of the web (html) more then the api’s of communiction. The openness of communications has really lead to large leaps to the next level.

  • I think web 3.0 will the combination of the semantic web and 3D.

  • Does this work?

  • It should 🙂 However, all “first posts” need my approval, in order to fight spam 🙂 Once your first post gets approved, you’ll be able to post comments to your heart’s content 🙂

  • Semantic features might be even more important for web 3D than for the normal web, an important reason being that a search engine can get much more information relevant for search from text than from a 3d model.

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