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Web 3.0, Schmeb 3.0

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By Stuart Campbell, Director of Software Development for SyberWorks, Inc.

Sometime…oh, around 2004…you probably started hearing buzz about “Web 2.0…The next generation of the Internet.” The term was coined by O’Reilly Media. And though everyone you ask gives you a different definition of the way Web 2.0 should look and feel, perhaps the best definition can be found in the company’s own archives, here: O’Reilly Publishing’s Original Web 2.0 Description

And O’Reilly continues to call Web 2.0 a “transformative force.” But have you felt it yet? You may just have.

O’Reilly’s early definition differentiated Web 2.0 from Web 1.0 (the old “cloud”) in that:

Companies even advertised that their products and services were “Web 2.0-ready,” subtly implying that Web 2.0 was some sort of official specification, which it wasn’t. Some even speculated that the Web 2.0 Internet would become a 3D virtual world like Second Life (SL). And the fact that IBM and Microsoft were big SL backers did blow some wind into that sail.

In reality, O’Reilly’s Web-2.0 description has been materializing all around us, unnoticed by most for what it was. The above bullets sound mighty familiar, don’t they? Wikis and blogs are everywhere now. We increasingly friend and track each other in sites like FaceBook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. And through them, our small, personal, “e-Villages” are merging into global meshes.

Most of us in the e-Learning world live and work online, like tropical fish in an aquarium. And the water in which we've been swimming all along has picked up Web 2.0 colors even as we breathe it in.

And Now Comes “Web 3.0”

Many people are now describing the “next” Web 3.0 Internet as a “personal assistant” that:

And once again, Second Life is being held out as a possible model for the look and feel of this “next” Internet (which is also being called “Web 3D”). I won’t hold my breath on that, though! If I go to IBM’s, Microsoft’s, and Amazon’s web sites (all long-time SL partners), their Web interfaces are still glaringly 2D. I can’t click www.amazon.com and find myself walking through a 3D virtual store, able to browse shelves, pick up books, scan their pages, carry purchases to a virtual check-out station, and enter payment and shipping data by swiping a secure virtual ID card. Not today, anyway.

But several companies are working on experimental 3D browsers. For more information about that, just Google phrases like “3D browser”, “Google 3D browser”, “Google SketchUp”, “Firefox 3D Browser”, and “AT&T 3D browser”. From what I’ve seen, they all look like 2D interfaces with slickly layered 3D effects… not like truly immersive, 3D, information environments.

Some have even claimed that Web 3.0 may need to run on its own separate network and use its own new protocols…implying that it will be easier to build the next Internet from scratch. I personally know how hard it is to release just one new version of a single software product. I know how tough it is to keep it both forward compatible with future plans and backward compatible with existing users. So I don't for one minute believe that an entirely new Web 3.0 network will one day “replace” our familiar Internet.

More likely, Web 3.0 will sneak up on us bit by bit…in the night…just as Web 2.0 did (and is still doing).

About the Author:

Stuart Campbell is Director of Software Development for SyberWorks, Inc., a privately-held supplier of e-Learning software and training. A native of the United Kingdom, he had previously served as a Principle Software Engineer, Senior Consultant, Senior Software Engineer, and Development Specialist for companies such as Brooks Automation Inc., Digital Equipment, and Honeywell Control Systems. His areas of expertise include Visual Studio.NET, C#, VB.NET, VB6, VBScript, XML, COBOL, WindowsXP, Windows2000, WindowsNT, VAX/VMS, UNIX, Oracle, SQLServer, Oracle Rdb, Oracle DBMS, and Agile Modeling Methodology.

About SyberWorks

SyberWorks, Inc. is a leader in providing Learning Management Systems and custom e-Learning Solutions for Fortune 1000 corporations, higher education, and other organizations. Located in Waltham, Massachusetts, the company serves the multi-billion-dollar e-Learning market. Since 1995, SyberWorks has developed and delivered unique and economical solutions for creating, managing, measuring, and improving e-Learning programs at companies and organizations in the United States, Canada, Europe, and other countries.

SyberWorks, Inc.
411 Waverley Oaks Road
Building 3, Suite 319
Waltham, MA 02452

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