3.0: What is the Future of the Internet?

I’ve always enjoyed the Mail & Guardian and that extends to their more recent Thought Leader where the public can submit articles. Today’s pleasure was Lee-Roy Chetty’s Imagining Web 3.0:

The advanced development of the internet and the cornucopia of information it provides has only been in existence for just over 18 years.

The internet at its current growth rate and development stands to be the greatest machine ever built in the history of humanity. This machine also happens to be the most reliable machine human beings have ever constructed. It has never crashed before and has always run uninterrupted. Consider the usage of the internet too.

There are over 100 billion clicks per day online, there are approximately five trillion links between all internet pages in the world and over two million emails are sent per second from all around the planet. The internet also accounts for five percent of all electricity used on the planet to keep it running continuously.

An approximation of the internet in terms of size and complexity resembles the way a human brain would function. The internet however is continuing to grow in size and complexity every two years.

At the rate at which the internet is evolving, it is projected that by the year 2040, the internet will be able to store more knowledge and information and be able to operate at a higher level of cognisance than the whole of humanity combined.

In a hyper-connected world, the metric is no longer physical space that limits society, but clicks. The advent and continuous evolution of the internet has had the profound effect of pulling society out of two-dimensional space. The internet has broken boundaries that society has relied upon to define itself and to protect itself.

As Tim Berners-Lee theorises, in the future human beings will have a natural balance in using the creative and analytical parts of their brains. Berners-Lee believes that in the future, human beings will be able to solve large analytical challenges by turning computer power loose through the power of a notion of a semantic web.

However, before we can even contemplate a semantic web or evolution to a web 3.0, I need to explain the various stages that the web have evolved into and how exactly a semantic web or web 3.0 would be able to come into existence.

Web 1.0, or the information web, was straightforward enough. It was full of static content and could be seen as an extension of offline media, such as print and TV. This version of the web was able to provide information to users in a broadcast model of information dissemination.

In the case of web 1.0, producers created content for online users to use and have the ability to share in a limited manner with others online.

The next evolution of the web brought about web 2.0 or the social web which is characterised by users communicating, contributing and collaborating.

Social networks, live chat, IM, folksonomies, mash-ups, virtual worlds and even mobile media are part of the web 2.0 landscape.

These forms of collaboration and sharing breaks down the traditional media broadcast model or monolithic method of communication and content generation characterised by the previous generation of the Web.

Web 2.0 has empowered users and consumers of the web to shift from being passive consumers of content and information into active producers of content and information. It allows users to equally participate in the production of content creation and in sharing that content with a wider audience online.

My book, Imagining Web 3.0, attempts to develop a prescient theory of what the next stage of the web (web 3.0) will look like. Web 3.0 has also been the called the semantic web because the software that will allow the concept of a web 3.0 to come to fruition will have the power to learn, intuit and decide. This version of the web derives its “wisdom” from software that learns by looking at online content, analyses the popularity of that content and has the ability to draw conclusions.

In other words, instead of users refining information and opinion online, intelligent software would have the ability to do so…

Read the rest of the article here.

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