A quick review. Web 1.0 was characterized by websites which shared information with users. Communication was largely one way from the author of the site to the consumer, or visitor to the site. The web 1.0 era ended with the tech bubble bursting in 2001. We should remember that one of the main strengths of Web 1.0 was the new ability for users to buy items from stores physically far from the user. This concept fueled wild speculation about the reach of the internet and agnostic nature of the internet. When it turned out that geography did matter, businesses such as TOYS.com were affected.
Web 2.0 had been embodied by the use of social media platforms (Myspace, Facebook and Twitter). These websites leverage users as content creators, not just consumers. These sites provide a platform for communication. Progressive site administrators leverage their users improve and online relationships to help share their message. Web 2.0 provided users with new autonomy in directing content about themselves, their interests, their relationships with other people, companies, governments, organizations and entities.
Web 3.0 is a new phenomenon classified by the importance and lack of importance of geography. Mobile and cloud technologies are not just web 2.0 on smaller screens and inexpensive scalable servers. The real value is in the new functionality and capabilities these tools provide.
Mobile is hyper geographic. Geography, or location, or spatial context, means services relevant to users can be presented to them, also real time updates about what is going on around them can be shared. Without the geographic context much of data created today becomes not valuable. Grindr helps gay men find each other based on proximity, close tweets can be invaluable in a blackout, Zillow gives updates about my house or property values while I am on vacation.
In a web 2.0 world, topical searches like “North Park Blackout” might lead to relevant results, but it takes an extra step and also requires your neighbor to tag information or make his information easily searchable.
The value in cloud technology is the inverse: Servers can be anywhere. Most often partitioned within another superpower computer. Does it matter whether the server is in Illinois or India? Not really. The idea that a server needs to be located in an onsite server room has nothing to do with application performance or cost, but a misguided mistrust of cloud resources as insecure. Network administrators who need to be able to physically pull the plug on a server are living a 2.0 world.
Why has Facebook, the champion of Web 2.0, had problems capitalizing in a mobile environment? It certainly isn’t because there aren’t mobile social nexuses to uncover. Facebook’s ecosystem is incredibly sticky and users aren’t finding it stale. Facebook was slow to realize that Web 3.0 is different. Mobile Facebook isn’t good enough. Facebook’s base turned to Foursquare and other mobile based platforms to leverage the new paradigm. Users got it. Facebook didn’t.
In both mobile and cloud technologies the major obstacle which was overcome was geography. Real value is created from where hardware is where it wasn’t before, and where it needed to be but no longer does.
Web 3.0 isn’t either of these major advances, but both. The inherent nature of the client-server relationship has changed. Both of these changes occurring at the same time has multiplied the effect.
Servers can be spun up in California and used on mobile devices in NY. Where the server is is no longer important. Where the mobile device is is most often the primary factor. Language, database versioning, programming languages and seamless machine readable sharing continue to remain persistent obstacles, but geography has truly been defeated.
The village across the mountain range can now be reached at a moments notice. The world is not flat. The world is the opposite of flat. The world is now bent over on itself, where every point touches every other point.