My 7/12/09 Missoulian column
Software – both programs and operating systems – have version numbers in order to distinguish different releases; and usually the higher the number, the newer the version.
The Internet as we know it – from a Web user’s standpoint – has “version numbers,” too. We don’t often hear these version numbers mentioned, but they can be helpful to visualize a history of the Internet and get an idea of where it might be headed in the future.
According to many Web savants, we’re in the middle of Web 2.0; and there was a version 1.0, and a version 3.0 is on its way. The phrases Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 are even buzzwords these days. So what do these versions mean?
Web 1.0 was pretty old-fashioned. Compared to 2.0, 1.0 was “static,” in that users could read Web pages (which were mostly text) but couldn’t interact (like today). And Web search – indispensable now – was almost nonexistent in 1.0.
Back then, it was difficult to put up your own Web pages if you weren’t a whiz and/or connected with a university or government agency. And there were few indexes; you had to know exactly where to go to find a particular Web site.
Web 2.0 – where we’re at right now – is mostly characterized as being user-generated and searchable. Everyone and their brother is able to engage in forums and networking and make Web “content” available for all. And searching the Web – Googling – is so ubiquitous it’s been a verb for a few years.
One might wonder at the usefulness of Web 2.0, with social networking and spam and scams and all, but it’s here, with nearly 1.5 billion total Internet users estimated last year.
What about Web 3.0? Some say that 3.0 will be much more useful in the sense that the Web will have evolved into being “semantic.” That means that information will be much more organized and easier to find, either by humans or by other computers, and will be searchable in context rather than by raw data or words.
The semantic Web of 3.0 will also be composed of nearly complete indexes to the Web as well as the “deep Web,” information hidden away in databases. And Web 3.0 will be a great deal “in the cloud,” too, and more based on technological standards.
Are there high hopes for Web 3.0? Yes, and only time – and the influence of a world full of Internet users – will show the way.