Monday, September 24, 2007

Completion of a Stage Transition, A View of Web Evolution, Series No. 10

(Revised May. 25, 2008)

Finally, we have reached the last general question about the Web evolution process. How do we know that a stage transition has done? This is an essential question because we, especially the Web industrial companies, need to know the timing to adjust their particular strategy at different period of Web evolution. I exclaim that we are now (May 25, 2008) in the middle of the Web-2.0 stage. The transition from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 had already finished. What is the reason beneath this claim? This final corollary answers the question.

Corollary 7: the completion of a stage transition of Web evolution is visible by the emergence of a new form of Web space.

We have mentioned the term "Web space" many times in the earlier installments. But we cannot formally define it before defining Web resources and WebROM. This is why we are only able to give the term a complete definition until this end.

A Web space is a personified composition of Web resources. A Web space may contain various web resources in a great deal of number. But the addition of every piece of Web resource must be intentionally addressed by the human owner of the Web space. That is, human owners add a piece of resources into its Web space for some reason and totally by their own willingness. A Web space is not a random collection of Web resources done by machine without any purposes. By this specification, a Web space on the Web may be analogized to a virtual person in the virtual society of World Wide Web.

When human users materialize their consciousness on the web, they produce new Web resources. In particular, personalities are materialized to be pieces of data resources; capabilities are materialized to be pieces of service resources; and friendships are materialized to be pieces of link resources. By explicitly formulating the ownership over the specified web resources, we get Web spaces.

The transformation of external display is often the ultimate consequence of internal transition. This is a general rule applicable to both of human growth and Web evolution. When humans grow up, their external figures changes accordingly. Quite many parents overlook the internal changes happened inside their children. But few parents may miss the external change of figures happened in the body of their children. In similar, only professional Web experts may sensitively catch the initiative of Web stage transition by knowing the progress of WebROM. But the majority of the ordinary Web users should have no difficulty to observe the upgrade of Web spaces. Through this upgrade, everybody knows that we are now at a new evolutionary stage that is upgraded from the previous one.

At Web 1.0, the typical form of Web space is homepage. At Web 2.0, the typical form of Web space is personal account. We do not need to have professional computer science knowledge to tell this difference.

Web Space Transformation from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0

Web-1.0 resources are typically raw data, hardcoded links, and passive, non-portable services. These resources are anonymous. The primary goal of Web-1.0 spaces is to properly display all these resources. Hence a standard web page is the convenient form of Web-1.0 spaces. With respect to individual web users in person, Web-1.0 spaces are typically homepages.

Due to the invention of AJAX, Web-2.0 resources become typically labeled data, labeled links, and active, portable services. To hold all of these higher quality resources together properly, we need to have a particular specification of ownership. (Self-consciousness starts to be explicit.) For example, Web-2.0 users must demand the distinction of their own tags from the tags made by the other people. Due to this requirement of ownership declaration, the 1.0-style anonymous Web spaces become no longer suitable to the changing environment. As the result, the 2.0-style Web spaces are personal account that are named so that all the Web-2.0 quality resources can be well bound to their owners.

Web Evolution: moving forward

At present, the new Web-2.0 spaces has already been well formed. By our last corollary, it means that the transition from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 has done. Then the next question is---what is going on next?

By the Corollary 5, since at present there are still signals of next-generation WebROM. We can safely exclaim that we are at the middle of the Web 2.0 stage. By the Corollary 4, we know that the main task right now is to accumulate Web-2.0 resources. The faster we can accumulate the resources, the quicker the next transition will come. Hence the most valuable technology at this moment is the technologies that can accelerate the accumulation of Web-2.0 resources. The companies that can do better on this goal are the successful companies in this particular period of time. As far as now, we can see a list of the names in this category---Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Twine(Radar Networks), and a few others. (Note that this is why I insist that Twine is at most Web 2.5 but not 3.0. Its main purpose is to accelerate Web-2.0 resource accumulation instead of produce Web-3.0-quality resources.)

At the same time, however, in order to avoid the same dot-com bubble we have experienced during the transition from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0, we need to start the research about the next WebROM immediately. The progress of this research very much depends on how well the researchers can understand the grand picture of Web evolution. (And this is why the study of Web evolution is so important.) At the last time, Web 2.0 was only recognized after the burst of the dot-com bubble. It was too late. This time, we hope that we can recognize it before the next bubble. To the best wish, due to the early recognition of stage transition of Web evolution, we may eventually avoid all the potential bubbles in front.

But one more thing we need to understand about Web evolution. From the beginning, I have emphasized that any objective evolutionary event is out of the control of humans. Hence we do not need to dream that we might have the ability to change the standard process of Web evolution. For example, no Web-3.0 company can succeed if the Web itself has not been ready for Web 3.0 yet. For the advertisement purpose, it is fine for any company to declare itself to be at next generation. But as serious researchers, we should know that no company can succeed beyond the stage of the Web itself at the meantime. The companies that actively knows the progress of World Wide Web will have the biggest chance to be success in this highly competitive field. From another angle, we see the importance of Web evolution research.

Final Words

Finally, we have finished this long series about Web evolution. We have developed two postulates and seven corollaries to describe the entire progress of Web evolution. This theory is to help us not only recognize the present, but also to foresee the future. By this theory, we know that the future of World Wide Web is not random. On the contrary, the future of the Web is very much predictable if we can carefully study its present and the past.

After this series, I am going to start a new series on the next-generation Web. Let's watch together how this theory may help us walk to the next generation.

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