Web 2.0 has been described both by the technology employed and the activities the technology made possible. The common theme was the ability to use applications over the web like they were on on a local computer. You could interact with the web in real-time without using flash or ftp. You could store files on the web by clicking save. Data was auto-saved as you type. You could put little parts of webpages all over you desktop and make multiple web applications work together. Developers no longer had to build complete solutions in-house. Many different programmers and companies could build pieces that the user or other developers could put together to create applications that were not even thought of by the creators of the pieces. The web became a place where you could make stuff, not just a place to put things after you made them on your computer.
Recently there has been a lot of talk about what Web 3.0 will look like. In some cases the ideas are more like Web 2.5. (In other cases the ideas will not be realized until version 4 or 5.) To really hit the next level, two things need to happen. First, we need a good, solid, no-bulls-left, hard-landing recession. This will clear out a lot of the bad and half baked ideas that are still floating around. After that is over, we can start building new technology that enables us to do things that have never been done before. Most of the applications that are being built right now are not new ideas or paradigm shifts. We are just trying to make old ideas a little better. That is okay, but we can do better.
There are hundreds of cool ideas out there. Some more doable than others. How can we predict which ones will make it to market next? And of those, which are big enough be called version 3?
An obvious big deal is 3D. Would that be big enough to warrant a new version number? If all that is meant by 3D is a stereoscopic view, then no, it is not big enough. On the other hand, if 3D means wearing gloves, grabbing documents and moving them around, shaking hands with other avatars, smelling and tasting virtual food, feeling the sand between your toes on a virtual beach, and making things out of virtual clay, then yes, that is big enough. Sure the technology exists to do this, but it is so expensive that it may have to wait until version 4. We can always hope.
The most likely scenario is that we will first achieve 3D interaction with the web the other way around. Instead of moving all of our everyday objects into a virtual world, we will bring the virtual world into everyday objects. Instead of appliances having controls they will have touchpad displays that are multi-purpose web-browsers. The”homepage” on these devices may allow you to control the device, but it will also allow you to send and receive XML data and control other devices in your workspace or home. Appliances will advertise services that can be access via the web from anywhere.
Another piece of this is the browser merging with the operating system. Each device, including keyboards, monitors, hard-drives, and even remotes, will have its own IP address and independent operating system/browser software. All devices will communicate via IP and XML using universal connectivity like ethernet, USB or bluetooth.
We will still use devices that just display information, but they will be responsible for translating webpages into images. Each program, webpage, widget, or other software that needs a screen presence will request a plane or a cube within the monitor’s virtual space. The request will be made via XML and then the monitor would handle converting to two dimensions, if necessary, and simulate overlapping surfaces and transparency. This would allow you to switch between two and three dimensional monitors without having to rewrite the software to handle it. Old monitors could still be used with a converter box.
Home computers (the box) will become local data servers and application mirrors. When you purchase a software license you receive the right to mirror the application locally for faster response. It would simply act as a webserver with a local address. Graphics intensive applications could be mirrored inside the display. Your links to software would include one or more local addresses in addition to the software publisher’s site. This will allow you to run your applications whether you are connected to the internet or not, and still be able to run your applications from a friends computer.
Your data can be stored on local dataservers as well as online. Most applications will hopefully be written in such a way that data is automatically backed up both online and locally with the smarts to be able to synchronize changes when connectivity is limited. Also all data regardless of where it is stored will be accessible from anywhere with the proper authentication. This will not have to be done with add-on software since the only way to store data is to send it to a dataserver over IP, even if you are sending it from an application on your monitor to a hard drive two inches away. Since all possible data locations have IP addresses all data is accessible as long as it is connected. This makes data sharing a plug-and-play reality. You no longer have to “publish” a website or upload data. You simply save your files to a dataserver that will always stay connected and flag it as public.
If you have questions or other related ideas please leave a comment. What other features should be a part of Web 3.0?
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