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The Mind Blowing Evolution of the Social Web

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Online marketing is as much about knowing where the web is going, as it is about understanding the current snapshot of how things work now. Early adapters to technology and those that embrace trends will reap huge rewards.

Web 2.0 saw the widespread movement towards the social web with user generated and user driven content. The information explosion took the form of seemingly endless niche communities producing content with blogs and independent publishing sites. Consumers are empowered with web services, photo sharing sites, video sharing, news voting sites, ways to get more information, contribute to it, and view it the way they want to. People are commenting and joining the conversation, creating an exchange of ideas and information unparalleled in human history. That time is right now.

Web 3.0 will see the maturity of web 2.0 sites, personalization, aggregation, 3d interfaces, and the always-on web service. They’ll be more sites, but more importantly all the information from all these sites will be brought together, analyzed by software and websites and spit out in new a meaningful ways.

Web 3.0 will see all the social, user generated, and independent content conglomerated, analyzed and spit out in ways that can be quickly and efficiently customized to what’s important to you. Relevancy will no longer be determined at the keyword level, but on the individual level. Smart services will actually understand what you like and will evolve as do your likings and importance. It won’t be artificial intelligence yet, but it will have enough data from enough places to be able to quickly learn about your habits through smart “agents.”

You won’t have to go out and search for your information, it will come to you. Smart aggregation and analysis of social data and the ability to combine and sort through your existing network will provide insights into the things you actually care about most with minimal work on your part. For example, perhaps something would come up that said “87% of your friend and colleagues yesterday found this particular article outstanding you might read it first…”

You can see the beginnings of this with the development of RSS, personal feed readers, and personalized search, but currently they work a bit “clunky” and haven’t reached anywhere near critical mass; the personalization leaves a lot to be desired. Imagine the great usability features of amazon.com, but not just from the data amazon has, but taking into account all the social information, professional reviews, user reviews and data out there from one million websites – presorted and displayed in meaningful ways. Imagine a widget poping up with “75% of US buyers with a similar occupation and budget bought the competing product from this website after they read this review and then spent on average of 1 minuted comparing it to this review”. Cool stuff!

I imagine much more sophisticated search engine results which combine and analyze live data and recognize differences specific to the type of question or thing being searched for. For example say you were searching for me. The search engine would know you were looking for a person and then put together profiles detailing different people with that name. Instead of a generic list of relevancy they would have context. For example, it would group all the information about me into a cluster, “Solomon Rothman,” which could relay in visual form (graphics, video, text) everything from what blogs I author, to what online communities I visit, and the last thing I did online that left a trace.

Each individual result in a person search would have a summary of who they are, what they’ve accomplished (from data on the web of course, but as more and more info comes online these portraits could become strikingly detailed in the semantic web (what they’re calling web 3.0).

Most of the tedium involved in finding what you’re actually looking for (after you have the intent figured out and your looking for a particular result) will be worked out. Instead of having to sort through ten sites to find the lowest price, you should be able to ask your search engine with real language and have it do the work for you.

Web 3.0 should enable productivity on a new level. I imagine lots of the research I do which involves visiting many sites and running programs could be performed from a single “smart” search query in the web 3.0 world. Links will still be important to judge search relevancy, but more important will be behavioral analysis or what visitors do on your site once they get there. Examples include which type of visitor subscribes, shares the link with their friends or buys something.

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This is the first part in a 3 part series:

  1. Imagining Web 3.0 and Beyond Part 1 – The Mind Blowing Evolution of the Social Web
  2. Social Media’s Future Part 2 – The Beauty of Web 3.0
  3. Web 4.0 and Beyond Part 3 | Science Fiction becomes Social Media Reality
The Mind Blowing Evolution of the Social Web
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  • MikeD

    You suggested “Instead of a generic list of relevancy they would have context. For example, it would group all the information about me into a cluster, [...]” but I don’t believe it will be easy for a search engine to group information about /you/ into a cluster. It may be able to cluster information about similar people with the same name, and perhaps there is enough specific context and the name is unique enough that there is only one person in the cluster, but for common names there may not be enough context to disambiguate and truly ‘identify’ the person.
    And of course, some people may not want to be identified – having different personas helps private citizens stay private.

  • Sumitra Menon

    I happened to check out the new Web 3.0 concept in Sramana Mitra’s blog. Its interesting! href=”http://sramanamitra.com/blog/572″>Web 3.0 = (4C + P + VS).

  • Kaila Colbin

    Hi Solomon,

    Great article! The ability of web providers to understand the individuals accessing their information could be the key ingredient for success in the next iteration of the web. Your comments fueled a post on my blog today.

    You write primarily about personalization through demographics (“75% of US buyers with a similar occupation and budget…”). What do you think of a VortexDNA-type model that focuses more on understanding core purpose and values, relying on the user’s deepest beliefs to filter information?

    All the best,
    Kaila Colbin
    VortexDNA Blogger
    http://blog.vortexdna.com

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