Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Utopia 3.0

I'm not quite sure that everyone gets this, but the Web(2.0, 3.0...15.0) cannot be interpreted the same way we looked at product life-cycle releases (Windows 3.0, Windows NT, Windows 95, Windows 98, ....Windows Vista...Windows XP... ).
So Josh Catone's right in saying "..version-ing the Internet is silly..".

Aside from version-ing the Internet, defining the Internet is the next silly thing to do. I really couldn't tell you, definitively, if web 2.0 was about interactions, if it really was the business revolution it was made out to be, or if it really taught us zip about using the Internet as a platform.
Likewise, who's to say what web 3.0 will be about? It could be about personalization, like a lot of folks are saying, and it could be about contextualization.

The right way to look at the evolution of the web is to start off by ignoring the nuances and focus on as large a picture as we possibly can. I call this picture "i-volution- the role of i in the internet".

1.0 was about access. It was about how we could get on the Internet, and how we could access the information that was on the Internet.

With 2.0, the message was clear: it became easier for us to access, AND to produce.
RSS became the vehicle to share information we produced, web services became more popular, and Internet access became a commodity.

The new wave was production, and access to/availability of production tools became the mantra of the Web 2.0 generation.
This happened at many levels, across many different market niches, in varying degrees of sophistication.
From Publishing > Video > Services > News > Information > Lifestyle...and anything else that comes to mind, there was(is) Blogger, YouTube, SalesForce.com, Google News, even Wikipedia....and that list keeps growing every day.

Now here's the problem: I haven't had a chance to fully catch up with web 2.0, and folks are already talking about web 3.0. Granted I'm a slow adopter, but still...I feel like the web's moving a lot faster than I am, and while I may not taste and swallow as quickly as others, I definitely look and touch new technologies pretty darned quick. So there's no way I'm going to start talking about Web 3.0, until I know the ins and outs of Web 2.0. I understand I have a lot of empathy on this point....a lot of people are worried that the hype-cycles of the web are moving faster than the evolution cycles, and we're missing out on value creation.

And at any rate, it occurred to me that we can't quite go on to the next step, until we've entirely saturated the current one. It's human. It's natural. It's Darwinian. I can already see this post being rejected in the Red states, but red or blue, it's very true: we can't really decide what we take forward into Web 3.0, until we know what worked(and what didn't) in Web 2.0.

We're only just getting equipped and acquainted with the tools of this new generation(2.0), lots of questions are being asked about the economics of viability surrounding the use of (and production from) these tools, and obviously, we're still a ways from mainstream adoption of the 2.0 world.
So 3.0 will be a phase where we learn to create new worlds with our new tools. It's going to be the age of mass production, mass consumption, and mass distribution.

Mind you, it's going to be a very inefficient phase. There has been a lot of 2.0 hype, and not all of it is holier than thou. Some Evangelists 2.0 have forgotten the very premise of business, and focused more on painting pretty pictures of grandiose worlds filled with democratic ideas that have little bearing on cash flow and profitability. So that dust has to settle, before the jewels in the rough emerge.

Then, it's going to be a matter of us getting used to the new economics surrounding the real value that 2.0 brings us: there will be more production, there will be more consumption, and somewhere in there, there will be more transaction. And we're definitely going to need better systems to handle those transactions.

Once(when) we have those cycles going, at a more mainstream level than it is at today, perhaps we can begin to visualize what the next web will look like.

I'm tempted to write about that next web here, but why bother, when I can just write another post?
After all, I did mean to write about new horizons, and ended up writing an epitaph.

But then, this is more a cenotaph, because if I'm reading this right, Web 3.0 is going to be a transient phase...and not the new world we've been talking about.