Sunday, July 13, 2008

The initial signal of Web 3.0

For more than a year, I have studied the laws of Web evolution. A few news in recent months have already made me think whether the transition towards the next generation Web (or Web 3.0) has started. Finally, a break news at the last weekend becomes the last straw.

This break news is about Jason Calacanis' official announcement of retirement from blogging. For readers who are not familiar to him, Jason is a symbolic person in the Web 2.0 age. He founded Weblogs Inc. and He has also joined Sequoia Capital and organized TechCrunch50 together with Michael Arrington. Although I do not agree to their argument that "DEMO needs to die," it does not decrease any of my respect to either Jason or Michael. They are visionary pioneers who always make big actions. With such a background, I would like to ask the objective meaning (in contrast to subjective thoughts) of Jason's retirement from blogging statement with respect to Web evolution.

To answer the question, there are a few other "coincidental" events we need to watch altogether. Here are they.

    a) the prevalence of the general idea of Data Portability

    b) the emergence of companies that start to "rethink" the Web such as Imindi and Genome

    c) more Web celebrities who start moving away from the traditional blogosphere such as Nova Spivack

I claim that there are intrinsic coherence beneath these seemly irrelevant news, i.e., the transition from Web 2.0 to Web 3.0 has started. This interpretation tells the unconsciousness side of Jason Calacanis' action of retirement. Maybe Jason himself has not been consciously known, his action is an initial signal of a stage transition in Web evolution.

Data portability intends to solve the central problem in the Web 2.0 infrastructure---managing the ever-increasing quantity of Web 2.0 resources. Too many duplications of online information (especially such as the duplicated personal identities in varied subscribed Web 2.0 sites) have gradually cause more and more troubles for both of the individual users and Web industrial companies. With the implementation of data portability, we may solve most of the data duplication issues and significant release the pressure of Web object identification.

If we project data portability onto Web industry, it is more than opening up platforms or publishing APIs. By contrast, it demands rethinking of the basic infrastructure of the Web. Data portability will remodel the Web from a gigantic platform (2.0 stage) to a uniform playground (3.0 stage). The process is similar to that asynchronous data processing remodeled the Web from a generic file system (1.0 stage) to a gigantic platform. Both Imindi and Genome are trying to develop a new form of products grounded upon the new thinking, which make them be different from the other Web 2.0 peers. However, I am certain that there must be more new rethinking in the stealth mode besides the two I know.

On the other hand, if we project data portability onto individual practices on the Web, we are going to see the transformation of Web spaces from blog (2.0 stage) to the next form (3.0 stage), which is similar to the transformation from homepages (1.0 stage) to blogs. Both Jason and Nova claimed that they would adopt another form of Web space besides blog to communicate with people. Jason said that it would be a new form mail list and Nova claimed it to be Twine. If we look at these two forms in details, Jason's solution focuses more on privacy, distraction from time wasting, and higher quality of communication. Nova's solution focuses more on uniform control over various identities. Both points are related to the problems Vlad discussed in his Genome proposal. What a coincidence!

Probably Jason is just tired of continuing to blog for too many readers and Nova is just trying to advertise the product of his company. But unconsciously their actions have illustrated one thing---we are entering a new transitional period from Web 2.0 to 3.0 now. Web 2.0 is about to be passed.


Anonymous said...

Damn, do we really have to throw around useless terms such as "web 3.0" already?

Yihong Ding said...


Certainly not. But at present, we do not have a better term to describe the next stage after "Web 2.0." Web 3.0 is the closest one that can immediately let ordinary people know what happens. No other terms have this power of message delivery, though I agree to you that "Web 3.0" is not a pretty term at all.


Daniel Heise said...

to complain about the term 3.0 is just as useless...
What matters are the changes, nevermind the names. The name issue is so 2.0 like!

Kingsley Idehen said...


You are making valid points, but as you know, making explicit connections to history ultimately aids the causual observer trying to comprehend the inflection that is clearly in motion.

Your nice post makes no connections to the following:

1. The gradual emergence of Structured Data on the Web
2. The emergence of Linked Data (the use of the RDF Data Model and HTTP based RDF Data Source Names or URIs as exemplified by the Linking Open Data communities many efforts e.g DBpedia

Data Portability is the broad mental model for what is in fact Open Data Access by Reference on the Web (aka Linked Data Web).

Web 2.0 was never about structured data sources. It stopped at APIs as the focus was coding and APIs. Thus, we now have a proliferation of "Data Silos" amongst other things.

Web 2.0 isn't bad per se, especially as it will be remembered as the Web evolution stage that made the need for a Linked Data Web much clearer.

The Linked Data Web itself, ultimately brings clarity to the broader Semantic Web vision; a process that is playing out right now :-)

More than anyting else, we are seeing the gradual death of marketing "Labels" and the gradual journey towards "Core Concepts". At the end of the day, the label "Web 3.0" doesn't matter (I agree with your usage though). What matters is the fact that the Web is becoming a Distributed collection of loosely coupled Structured Databases, and the is a great thing bearing in mind the impending challenges that "Information Overload" will ultimately expose to all Web Users.

Yihong Ding said...

Dear Kingsley,

Thank you for mentioning linked data.

Unquestionably you are right, the emergence of linked data is a remarkable event in Web evolution. By linking Web data (in contrast to Web documents) together, we are approaching a better structured Web and information on the Web becomes more accessible and useful.

On the other hand, however, to determine whether a progress is essential for stage transition in Web evolution, we should watch whether the progress precisely addresses the primary contradiction existed in the previous evolutionary stage. In the stage of Web 2.0, the primary contradiction is the conflict between the ever-increasing amount of Web 2.0 resources and the duplicated copies of resources in varied Web 2.0 sites. Hence the key to solve the problem is making data portable in contrast to being linked.

In the other words, linked but non-portable data would not solve the primary problem in Web 2.0. Portable but unlinked data, however, can still solve the primary problem in Web 2.0. Because of this reason, I have chosen the progress of data portability but not linked data to be the key of invoking the transition towards Web 3.0.

Does it mean that the issue of linked data is less important than the issue of data portability? Not at all. What I want to say is that the time of linked data has not come yet. Before we well solve the problem of data portability, linking all Web data into a uniform, queriable, structured database is not so valuable as we may think. The reason is that we may have to face too heavily the problem of data duplication that the quality of linked data becomes very poor. Only if we have solved the problem of data portability, when linked data are built upon portable data, we may access the real compelling power of a web of data.

In few days, I am asked to write a guest post for Alt Search Engines about Web evolution. In it, I will discuss more about my vision of Web evolution and you may know better about what I think, I believe. Look forward to hearing more from you after the new post.



Kingsley Idehen said...


On the other hand, however, to determine whether a progress is essential for stage transition in Web evolution, we should watch whether the progress precisely addresses the primary contradiction existed in the previous evolutionary stage. In the stage of Web 2.0, the primary contradiction is the conflict between the ever-increasing amount of Web 2.0 resources and the duplicated copies of resources in varied Web 2.0 sites. Hence the key to solve the problem is making data portable in contrast to being linked.

I have tried to bring clarity to these matters of "Data Portability" and "Data Access by Reference" in a number of presentations [1][2].

"Data Portability" and "Data Access by Reference" are mutually inclusive approaches to Web de-silo-fication. They both address aspects of computing data predate the Web i.e. we could import and export data between desktop and networked applications using standard formats alongside the fact that we could manipulate data access by reference using open data access standards.

We don't want to keep on typing in the same profile data every time we encounter a new Web hosted Application Service. Likewise, we don't want to perform a wholesale import export of our data as the remedy either. This is where "Data Access by Reference" comes into play; I simply give each service my Profile URI and they can decide whether to import or simply manage a data access pointer.

Web 3.0 (in my eyes) is a valid moniker for describiing the emergence of smart interlinked data sources that can now be used in conjunction with the plethora of REST or SOAP services out in the wild.

In short, we are now completing the M-V-C model on the Web even though we've taken the V-C-M route :-)

1. Data Portability & Linked Data Spaces
2. Linked Data Planet Keyonte re. Creating, Deploying, and Exploiting Linked Data.

gregory said...

oh, there is definitely intrinsic coherence underlying this shift... in fact, there is intrinsic coherence, period. the shift in tech abilities and metaphors is simply a step along the way of ultimately aligning with this coherence

technology is just the out-picturing, or the manifestation, of what consciousness can already do

though, in some circles we need to take care when using the word consciousness, have to use awareness, or even mind, sometimes

Yihong Ding said...

I agree to you, gregory. The change currently happens at the technology realm is a reflection of change in the deeper level. In fact, the names from Web 1.0 to Web 3.0 is a high level description of change of life in the real human world. By this sense, it is not about how data on the Web is going to be linked and so on, it is about how these technological innovations bring the change to our human society. This is the real core of Web evolution.

Thank you and your comments always help me think better.