Web 3.0: A Smart Web that Helps People

Hey, I’m Rick Murphy. Casey’s out and gave me a guest spot to share some thoughts on where we are with what some folks are calling Web 3.0 and what it might mean in our lives and our jobs.

Web 3.0 is really just the idea of a smart Web that helps people at home and work. Remember that Web 2.0 is a response to the perception that heavyweight planning and technologies were slowing us down. Our tools were too complex. We quickly put blogs, wikis and other social media utilities in place that shifted complexity away from our tools, but cause us to manage that complexity. For an excellent talk on this issue, see Ross Mayfield’s All Things 2.0 Are Made of People, part of PARC‘s Beyond Web 2.0 series.

The success of Facebook and Twitter increase the information available to us. Now that we all have 500+ friends and Tweets streaming at us faster than we can read, how do we keep up? Our lifestreams are overrunning our lives. Whether we tag our family photos or search the Web, we expect to get all relevant results and exclude the ones that are irrelevant so we don’t have to filter them ourselves. We need a smart Web that reduces the burden of the complexity that we’ve taken on ourselves. Web 3.0 is the idea that we can add some smarts, known as the Semantic Web, to Web 2.0. These smarts help us at home and work by reducing this complexity.

So where are we with Web 3.0 and the Semantic Web? Since the 2001 Scientific American article by Tim Berners-Lee, Jim Hendler and Ora Lassila, both skeptics and supporters have sought evidence that the Semantic Web has been adopted. The good news is that the favorable climate for innovation recently accelerated adoption of Semantic Web technologies. Most recognizably, both Google and Yahoo announced support through their Rich Snippets and Search Monkey offerings. The UK Government moved the London Gazette, a four hundred year old publication, to the Semantic Web. You can hear more in this podcast from my colleague John Sheridan, Head of e-Services, of the UK Government’s Office of Public Sector Information. Datasets from data.gov are already available for the Semantic Web and our team has used Semantic Web technologies in our Enterprise Architecture practice.

Web 3.0 is the idea of a smart Web that helps people at home and work. Facebook will produce more meaningful information about relationships among family and friends. We might discover meaningful trends among Tweets. And we’ll spend less time filtering inaccurate search results.

Web 3.0 and the Semantic Web are happening now, but they won’t happen all at once. And there’s no more appropriate time to recall the well known William Gibson quote: “As I’ve said many times: the future’s already here, it’s not just very evenly distributed.”