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.” Continue reading

October 23, 2009

Web 2.0 Summit: Content & search get social

Aneesh Chopra

Aneesh Chopra, the U.S. Chief Technology Officer.

Social networks becoming more relevant to offline lives

JD LasicaI have been to every Web 2.0 Summit since its launch except for one (when I had a speaking commitment in Toronto), so it was good to be back at the venerable technology conference in San Francisco this week. This year’s event was not a somber affair, but it was considerably smaller in attendance: probably 50-60 percent off its high of a couple of years ago (that’s my estimate, not official). Just look at the Flickr stream: probably one-tenth the size of a couple of years ago.

Here’s my Flickr photo gallery of the summit — that’s Aneesh Chopra, the U.S. Chief Technology Officer, above. I briefly got to meet him backstage. (Disclosure: I was admitted with a press pass.) His deputy, Andrew McLaughlin, dissected dumber-than-dumb U.S. regulations — in effect preventing Government 2.0 from taking place — at the Web 2.0 Expo last spring. I asked Chopra about this from the floor and he talked animatedly about the progress his office is making in cutting the red tape to ribbons.

If there was a theme this year, it was this: Content is getting increasingly social. We see that through the major social networks (Facebook, Twitter), through news organizations that are struggling to find a business model (the social journalism-friendly Huffington Post is expanding its staff), and through a panpoly of new “social search” and “real-time search” results rolled out by the major search engines.

The tech press has already covered the newsworthy items coming out of the Summit (a sister event, Web 2.0 Expo, is held each spring in SF and will be held Nov. 16-19 in New York). Chief among them: announcements that Microsoft’s Bing search engine will now offer results from the real-time Web via Twitter updates (at bing.com/twitter) and, soon, public updates on Facebook (no money was exchanged), and Google will now offer a deeper set of Twitter updates, including something called a social circle (social search), due to debut early next year.

So here are some snippets of the scene at this year’s Web 2.0 Summit: Continue reading