There Is No Web 3.0

    November 13, 2006

John Markoff writes in the NY Times that Web 3.0 is coming.

Apparently he missed my post last week, for There is no Web 3.0. The funny thing about my summation last year (Web 2.0 is Made of People!) is the web has always been that way — and always will. At first glance, John seems to think the next web is made of machines.

    From the billions of documents that form the World Wide Web and the links that weave them together, computer scientists and a growing collection of start-up companies are finding new ways to mine human intelligence.

    Their goal is to add a layer of meaning on top of the existing Web that would make it less of a catalog and more of a guide – and even provide the foundation for systems that can reason in a human fashion. That level of artificial intelligence, with machines doing the thinking instead of simply following commands, has eluded researchers for more than half a century.

I’d bet the future is less the Matrix than Soylent Green. Less semantic fuzz than social discovery. Less artificial intelligence than human intelligence. Less automation and more augmentation. Wandering around the Web 2.0 Summit I saw more presentations using 3.0 than I can enunummerate. Some were about more immersive platforms, some desire the singularity, but most just wanted to be new and cool.

John does end the article with a view similar to mine:

    “With Flickr you can find images that a computer could never find,” said Prabhakar Raghavan, head of research at Yahoo. “Something that defied us for 50 years suddenly became trivial. It wouldn’t have become trivial without the Web.”

Besides, Web 2.0 will be known as the name of a bubble. And 3.0 would only be a marketing disaster.



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Ross Mayfield is CEO and co-founder of Socialtext, an emerging provider of Enterprise Social Software that dramatically increases group productivity and develops a group memory.

He also writes Ross Mayfield’s Weblog which focuses on markets, technology and musings.