Rise of Web 3.0


I try to keep tirades to a minimum. But tonight I felt inspired. So for those of you that hate long posts, I apologize in advance. For those of you, however, that like to wax philosophic about the web, stick around. One caveat, do not read this as saying that Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 trends are mutually exclusive. Or, that the beginning of Web 3.0 means Web 2.0 is all out of juice. On the contrary, I believe that we have not even seen the brunt of Web 2.0. For some other perspectives, check out posts by Tim and Tim.

Much of the innovation on the web today has been loosely lumped under the term Web 2.0 – the meaning and significance of which has been hotly debated for over two years. Who remembers the debate on this now famous blog post? If you thumb through the comments you might see some familiar names (devilish smile). As if this was not enough to chew on, a new term – Web 3.0 – has recently emerged. Tim O’Reilly must be having a field day. Oh the conferences he will have….

Although these terms have helped to reignite the spirit of the web, they are not exactly effective at capturing the fundamental changes occurring in the digital world. So what exactly is going on?

Web 1.0 –> Web 2.0
[publication mechanism to platform for services]

The primary disruption associated with the DOT-COM boom, retroactively labeled Web 1.0, was the shift from traditional print publication mechanisms to the web as a pervasive publication mechanism. The Web 2.0 is the next step in this progression. Specifically, it is the transformation of the web from a publication mechanism into a platform for decoupled online services. Data and applications are quickly being atomized into reusable components that can be mixed and match to create new services. There is a shift from unstructured data (HTML) to structured data (web services/RSS/microformats).

Developers are experiencing this change via the increased proliferation of web services in formats such as RSS, REST, and XML-RPC. Developers are not the only ones benefiting from this change, however. Just as developers can mix and match web services to create new types of applications, tools are emerging for non-technical users to customize their web experiences – Widgets.

If you are a widget dork, skip this paragraph…

Widgets are mini-applications that encapsulate web services via graphical components such as slideshows, videos, games, and more. Want your blog readers to know about the stocks you are watching? Grab a Yahoo Finance Badge. Want your friends on MySpace to know what the tour schedule is for your favorite band? Grab a ReverbNation Tour Map Widget. Widgets are the web ala carte. And these little apps are being used to build increasingly customized experiences on StartPages, Social Networks, Blogs and other online content aggregation platforms. And – as it happens – these platforms are embracing this change with open arms. Typepad and Blogger have opened up their sidebar to Widget Developers. Tagworld introduced a Widget gallery. And the list goes on and on…

Web 2.0 –> Web 3.0
[Atomic services to integrated experience]

So the theme of Web 2.0 is atomization. If Web 2.0 is about atomization, then Web 3.0 will be all about integrated experiences in a world of atomic content and services. As the web continues to become disaggregated, there will be a burgeoning demand for tools that can help users effectively leverage these “information atoms,” together in a meaningful manner. Not only will there be a need for tools that help users aggregate widgets, but also tools that enable widgets to work together. Imagine a world where there are as many widgets as there are web pages. Won’t it suck royally if they don’t work together?

Tools like Netvibes, Pageflakes, and Uber represent the next generation of content aggregation platforms. Marc Canter has dubbed these tools as Digital Lifestyle Aggregators, or DLAs. DLAs will enable users to manage their content and services across platforms (desktop, web, mobile) and even across social networks. But what about inter-widget communication? Isn’t that part of that whole Semantic Web nonsense? Isn’t that impossible? Nope.

It Begins (again)…

You all might have noticed the recent buzz around Yahoo’s new product, Pipes. Some folks even emailed me and asked me why I did not post about it. Well, I am getting to it!! 🙂 Anyway, this new product is the first step towards the Holy Grail of programming – enabling non-programmers to program. According to Yahoo:

Pipes is a hosted service that lets you remix feeds and create new data mashups in a visual programming environment. The name of the service pays tribute to Unix pipes, which let programmers do astonishingly clever things by making it easy to chain simple utilities together on the command line.

Now, let’s be serious. Pipes is not for mom and dad. That being said, it is a great first step. And, as always, there are others that are hard at work on similar projects. YubNub has embraced the whole notion of piped web services with their command line utility for a long time. Netvibes is quietly developing what they dub the “Universal API for Widgets.” Dapper, the data mapper, enables users to scrape HTTP web services to create new services. And let’s not forget Teqlo quietly creating an alpha version of a graphical web service integration tool. I could go on, and on…but you are all smart cookies.

Sufficed to say it looks like we have just seen the beginning. How silly do those foolish people that dismissed Web 2.0 feel now?

Enough insomnia-driven, future-casting, rabble rousing, blabbering for this geek. Later web-slingers.

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hoomanradfar Written by:

  • Craig

    No mention of the very first Protopage DLA. As I recall it was released yonks ahead of the competition and still retains its lead for its utter ease of use and customization!
    Here’s what you've over looked! http://www.protopage.com

  • Hooman Radfar

    Craig, did not mean to overlook anyone. 🙂

    I just was mentioning a few examples. There are so many worthy efforts in the space. I love what the guys at Protopage have been doing.

    There are also many other folks like Live, Google, YourMinis, Pageflakes, Snipperoo, Webwag, Webjam, and even social networks like AIMPages that are moving towards a DLA aggregation paradigm.

    Thanks for stopping by. I definitely think that there are so many awesome things going on out there. If anyone else would like to give their respective platforms a shout, let me know.

  • I like this Hooman – good stuff.

    You say:

    Web 1.0 = Web as pervasive publication mechanism

    Web 2.0 = Web as a platform, atomized content

    Web 3.0 = Web as remixer

    Through my user generated content blinders, I've been thinking of the progression as this:

    Web 1.0 = Site owners code and publish, users consume

    Web 2.0 = Site owners code and publish, users consume and publish

    Web 3.0 = Site owners code and publish, users consume, publish, and code

    I don't think we're that far apart Hooman – looking at the same phenomena from different angles.

  • Hooman Radfar

    I agree with you. I am basically talking about the technical change that affects companies/developers. You are hitting it from a user perspective. Keen observations. I think that guy that is working on the Personal Info Cloud concept, Thomas Van Der Waal (I think) would agree with you whole heartedly.

  • tom

    And what do you think about the WebWag "Widget on demand" feature? Seems also a much more powerfull way to recreate your web,no?

  • Hooman Radfar

    I think that the widget on demand feature is definitely neat. I think it just points out that people already are programming their websites with modules in the back of their minds. Webwag has a promising platform, but I wish they were easier to work with on the widget publishing side. Anyway, thanks for stopping by!

  • The Webwag widget on demand be a lot more interesting when you can actually export it to other sites. As it is now, it's a module in, for lack of a better term, a walled garden.

  • Hooman Radfar


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  • as usual

    everytime you say web 3.0 a startup dies.

  • Hooman Radfar

    "As usual," I am also not a huge fan of the labels (no pun intended). That being said, however, we are stuck with them. So, hopefully we can make the best of it. For instance, when Web 2.0 came out, it helped a ton of folks (like me) get the interest of investors that were shunning the web post DOT-COM. So, I guess it all depends on how you look at things. 🙂

  • The fact of the matter remains is that there is no web "2.0". It is vc fodder so some business major could understand what the teches were saying. Still I'm glad someone got funding out of it, your company makes nice looking widgets, and good luck running a business it is an adventure. Sadly most of the "web 2.0" ideas are desktop applications clones or "gee thats neat" going no where ideas. I'd argue the horse has already left the barn for web 2.0 Flickr, YouTube, and (sadly) MySpace already won. Web 2.0 has become a feature set social networks, user supplied content, ajax, cross platform video are features. If you are going to be a large site you can't not have them or link to them. The web didn't become a pile of services, grandma can't click a service, it became more useful links. Are these links morphing into widgets? Well I think we know where you placed your bets 😉

    (soap box)
    Either way HTTP/HTML was a horrible step in the wrong direction. Before Http we had BBSes, IRC, Gopher, FTP, MUDS, so many different interactive stateful protocols. An internet of interactivity if you would. Tim Berners Lee was and is an idiot, and unfortunately just like x86 a horrible design of HTML caught on. From the very start developers, companies, individuals have wrestled with getting state back. Time and time again shoehorning technology around HTML and the browser. Javascript and the DOM have been around for a decade and they help but they are not going to fix the core problem.

    The three dozen RIA platforms are going to die one by one just like Java applets, VRML, ActiveX and others did. How many run times can you really expect a user to install? 5 Browser plugins and Firefox or IE run sluggish. Someone will come out on top and sorta already have (Flash) "Unless" you control the OS the only reason ActiveX is still alive. Look at Microsoft XAML to try and be big in this hybrid application / web space.

    (/soap box)

  • Hooman Radfar

    Absolutely agree that the term was mostly for non-technical folks. That said, it did serve to polarize the web community quite a bit. Also, I agree that HTML is definitely not the best solution for the long haul. If you look at the evolution of web-based application programming, the languages have definitely gone more towards OO. HTML has been giving way to Javascript/Actionscript and those languages are looking more like Java and other strongly typed languages. I personally am a fan of Java and think that, in the long run, we simply need a new browser. The changes online – collectively falling under the Web x.0 mast – will ultimately contribute to the end of HTML as we know it. As you alluded to, HTML simply is no good for creating robust and stateful applications. Thanks SO much for the intelligent and well thought out comment. I definitely will try to post on more of these long term issues now that I know a few geeks stop by the ol

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  • Leah

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