To many Web users, Web 3.0 is something called the Semantic Web, a term coined by Tim Berners-Lee, the man who invented the (first) World Wide Web (WWW). In essence, the Semantic Web is a place where machines can read Web pages much as we humans read them, a place where search engines and software agents can better troll the ‘Net and find what we’re looking for.
“It’s a set of standards that turns the Web into one big database,” says Nova Spivack, CEO of Radar Networks, one of the leading voices of this new-age Internet.
The Semantic Web is a “web of data” that facilitates machines to understand the semantics, or meaning, of information on the World Wide Web. It extends the network of hyperlinked human-readable web pages by inserting machine-readable metadata about pages and how they are related to each other, enabling automated agents to access the Web more intelligently and perform tasks on behalf of users. The term was coined by Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web and director of the World Wide Web Consortium (“W3C”), which oversees the development of proposed Semantic Web standards. He defines the Semantic Web as “a web of data that can be processed directly and indirectly by machines.”
Web 1.0 – “The mostly read-only Web.” That Geocities & Hotmail era was all about read-only content and static HTML websites. People preferred navigating the web through link directories of Yahoo! and dmoz.
Web 2.0 – “The wildly read-write Web.” This is about user-generated content and the read-write web. People are consuming as well as contributing information through blogs or sites like Flickr, YouTube, Digg, etc. The line dividing a consumer and content publisher is increasingly getting blurred in the Web 2.0 era.
Web 3.0 – “The portable personal Web.” This will be about semantic web (or the meaning of data), personalization (e.g. iGoogle), intelligent search and behavioral advertising among other things. the Web 3.0 browser will act like a personal assistant. As you search the Web, the browser learns what you are interested in. The more you use the Web, the more your browser learns about you and the less specific you’ll need to be with your questions. Eventually you might be able to ask your browser open questions like “where should I go for lunch?” Your browser would consult its records of what you like and dislike, take into account your current location and then suggest a list of restaurants. Definitions of Web 3.0 vary greatly. Some believe its most important features are the Semantic Web and personalization. Focusing on the computer elements, Conrad Wolfram has argued that Web 3.0 is where “the computer is generating new information,” rather than humans.
The concept of the Social Semantic Web subsumes developments in which social interactions on the Web lead to the creation of explicit and semantically rich knowledge representations. The Social Semantic Web can be seen as a Web of collective knowledge systems, which are able to provide useful information based on human contributions and which get better as more people participate. The Social Semantic Web combines technologies, strategies and methodologies from the Semantic Web, social software and the Web 2.0.