Amidst our globalized world where everything and everyone is getting connected online, it’s easy to get caught up in cyberspace and forget that you are using a technology barely fifty years old. That’s right, the Internet originated in the early 60’s and yet the Web seems to now infiltrate every facet of our everyday lives. Be it in your content consumption, your car, your home, or even your own body.
Integrating growing technologies and the best methods, the Internet is truly evolving faster than we could ever have imagined, not just becoming a larger part in our lives, but life itself. And thus, I dare introduce to you, the latest prediction as to the Internets next grand step — Web 3.0.
“Wait,” you’re thinking “so when did Web 2.0 happen?” Believe it or not, you’re reading this on 2.0 right now. Although Web 2.0 leads you to believe that you somehow downloaded some official upgrade from the 1.0 static version without knowing it, be informed that there is no formal patch or update.
Rather, Web 2.0 is a blanket term for the generation of interactive social media functions on most modern sites. Instead of a basic webpage that only allows passive content viewing, Web 2.0 incorporates a virtual community where the user may engage in a dialogue and interact with the site’s creator and others; for example, a 2.0 site could be a product’s site with a review board, a blog with a comments section, or even an Ask-Me-Anything page on Reddit. Also known as the Social Web or the Mobile Web, 2.0 strives to be a communication tool for collaborating and sharing with one another– people connecting with people.
Building upon 2.0’s notion of connecting people, the next generation will attempt to link us with information and be a “Smart Web.” Though some are skeptical at the very mention of artificial intelligence, most of us subscribe to the idea that technology, science, and people are all working symbiotically at an unprecedented rate to create more efficient tools. Whether or not this means sentient, free-thinking machines and The Singularity one day is up for debate, but what is clear, is that humans are using the Internet much like an extra brain. And this is precisely where Web 3.0 comes in — it’s a “Semantic Web” that would provide a uniform framework so that data could be shared, analyzed, and reapplied across all applications and platforms for unlimited function, maximum effectiveness, and with minimal human interaction. This essentially means that there would be a such a sophisticated element in the web that it could actually “understand” you and interpret what you want.
Sci-fi crazy nonsense? Some may think so, but I think it is closer than most people would care to believe. Take Siri for example. She is a “Knowledge Navigator” that utilizes a natural language user interface that adapts to individual preferences and eventually customizes results for you. Now if you can consider an Internet experience that would combine this technology with all your personalizations collated and surmised from Big Data collection, it doesn’t seem so far fetched. Through the sites that you frequent, the past searches you have made, products you have bought, links you have posted, pages you have liked, personal descriptors you have provided, a semblance of the user’s identity is formulated. It then uses this personalized data as a metric in which to measure, screen, and ultimately select what is best suited to your needs. In layman’s terms, Web 3.0 will attempt to be an online version of yourself that does all of your surfing for you.
The Future of the Web
The convergence of emerging and developing technologies will continue to reshape, innovate, and disrupt current web standards; however, it is imperative to remain objective to a point with its role. As technology becomes ubiquitous, it will be increasingly difficult to ask ourselves the hard questions, like are we missing a natural and organic method to our own madness by letting the Internet pervade all stages of humanity?
This is not to say that we should be wary of The Terminator or The Matrix coming true (if it hasn’t already), but rather ask if there ever should be lines drawn. In light of Edward Snowden’s leaked government documents on mass surveillance and data mining, it is safe to say that technology is quickly becoming a double-edged sword that every person will have to wield. Will it be the machete that cuts a path or will it be the blade in our own Seppuku? The choice is ultimately ours.