October 21, 2010

Web 3.0 demystified: An explanation in pictures

Socialmedia.biz contributor Deltina Hay now has a featured column on Technorati called You’ll Be Back: Search Optimization & Survival. The column focuses on search optimization as it applies to the entire Web: search engines, social search, mobile search, the semantic Web, etc. You can read the articles right here on Socialmedia.biz every week.

In this first series of articles, we discuss each of the fundamental elements that are moving us toward an application-driven, Web-based, mobile computing era, and how they will ultimately affect search optimization.

Deltina HayWeb 3.0 aims to make online content easier for machines to understand and opens up and links large sets of data in consistent ways.

Finding a definition for Web 3.0 is no easy task when most people are still trying to grasp Web 2.0. However, it is a necessary task since Web 3.0 technologies are encroaching on the Internet quickly. Perhaps the best way is to start at the beginning.

Web 1.0: The Internet in one dimension

In the beginning, the Internet was flat. Think of it as a collection of documents (Websites) lined up side by side. Though many of the sites may have linked to each other, those links simply took a user straight to the linked site, and maybe back again.

Each website was classified using metadata composed of meta-keywords, meta-descriptions, and meta-titles that described what the content of the website was about. At their simplest, search engines used established search algorithms to comb through all of the websites’ metadata to return what it considered relevant results based on your choice of keywords.

The inventor of the Web, Timothy Berners-Lee, refers to this phase of the Internet as a “Web of Documents.”

Web 1.0

Web 2.0: A two-dimensional Internet

This next generation of the Internet added another dimension: collaboration.

This added dimension means that websites were linked in a more collaborative way. Instead of sending a visitor away from a site to view related content, the content is actually drawn into the visited site from the related site using RSS feeds or widgets.

But it isn’t only the websites that are more collaborative, it is also the users of the websites’ content. Internet users tag and comment on content and collaborate and interact among themselves.

Search engines have a whole new layer to consider in their searches: user-tagged Web content and the relevant connections between the users themselves.

Berners-Lee named this Internet phase the “Web of Content.”

Web 2.0

Web 3.0: The third dimension

Even with the rich metadata, collaboration between websites and users, and user-generated relationships to draw from, machines are still machines, and they still find it difficult to discern actual meaning from human-generated content. The third evolutionary step of the Internet aims to fix that by adding the dimension of “semantics.”

The goal of this phase is to make the content of the Web more easily interpreted by machines. Web content is typically written for humans, which means that it is produced with aesthetics in mind — little attention is paid to consistency or relevancy of the content itself.

Tim Berners-Lee calls this phase — rather passionately — the “Web of Data.”

 

Web 3.0

 

With a more digestible definition of Web 3.0 in hand, the subsequent articles in this series aim to make the concepts of the Semantic Web, structured and linked data, cloud computing, and application-based technologies just as painless to digest. To be continued.

This article was first published as Web 3.0 Demystified: An Explanation in Pictures for the Rest of Us on Technorati.Deltina Hay, a partner in Socialmedia.biz, is an author and educator who develops online curricula on social media and other Internet marketing topics. She also helps businesses prepare their content for semantic search and big data analysis. Contact her, follow her on Twitter and Google Plus, or leave a comment below.

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  • So, is it true that internet is dead? I think we are now in the age of “Web of Intent' where contents on the Web are catered to how you like to see them; not how businesses put it there for you to see. I guess, we see a trend that's going consumer-centric and I'm pretty excited just how things will be in the years to come.

  • Garious,

    I agree that the “Internet as we know it” is approaching death, yes. It will be a lot harder to force information in front of users who have so many ways of filtering and customizing their own content. Businesses will be forced to find more innovative ways to reach consumers. And, yes, it will be fun to watch and see how that all unfolds.