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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