Web 3.0 & Libraries

Since the advent of Web 2.0, speculation has abounded as to what form Web 3.0 will take.

Tim O’Reilly and Jennifer Pahika (see my previous post) term the explosive evolution of web 2.0 technologies and platforms “Web Squared” – indicating the exponential nature of its growth. However, this term has not been adopted into the common vernacular the way “Web 2.0” was (a tern coined by Dale Dougherty in conjunction with Tim O’Reilly)

Augmented Reality video The future right now

Watch this Commoncraft video explaining “augmented reality” – a function of the internet available right now, and which has enormous potential for the future. There is also another video at the end of this post showing “augmented reality” and books, and what they will be like in the future – essentially 3D movies!

In this article about how libraries will use Web 3.0 in the future, David Stuart, of Wolverhampton University, looks at 3 different possibilities for what Web 3.0 will look like:

The 3D Web

When 3D online virtual environments were first available, librarians and teacher-librarians alike tried to imagine the possibilities for engaging students and patrons, and the world of Second Life seemed to have the most possibility. While there are still many passionate advocates, it has never taken the Library world by storm, probably due to its complexity, both with computational requirements and user skills. David comments:

“The 3D web will only become a realistic medium for the provision of library and information services when it becomes seamless with the rest of the web, becoming browser friendly…  Although much of the hype surrounding 3D web services has died-down, there is plenty of potential for its application in the provision of library and information services in the future. However, it is important that technologies are used because they are the most appropriate way to convey the requisite information – not just because they are the latest glitzy web technology”

The Semantic Web

The semantic web is a way of describing things on the interenet so that computers can understand. It is not just links between pages – it is about relationships between pages and computers understanding those relationships – eg collecting information about what medecines are relevant to a particular disease and where specialists for that disease are located in a country.

“Embracing the semantic web requires librarians and information professionals to not only move beyond the physical and virtual document, which has been the focus of much of their attention up until now. It also requires them to start thinking of interacting with the data on the web as a large information resource, rather than in individual data repositories.”

The Real World Web

This refers to incorporating parts of the web into our daily lives all around us, through the use of increasingly sophisicated mobile phones which will augment reality, and internet-enabled real-world objects which will send us real-time updates. Examples of how libraries are using this already are through the use of QR codes which Bath University Library is already experimenting with (see my previous post on QR codes), facial recognition software, and the use of RSS feeds to instantly give customers information about which services are available or which facilities are not being used.

Future libraries

According to David Stuart, “The 3D web, the semantic web, and the real world web, will all have a role to play in the future provision of library and information services. However, it is the real world web that is most likely to change the way users see the web – thus, this is the one most worthy of the 3.0 moniker. Not only will it provide an immediately-recognisable difference in the way users view the web, but the technologies are already available. Although the technologies are available for the semantic web, it relies on widespread adoption to become useful. It doesn’t seem likely that it will create a dramatic shift in the way we view the web any time soon. The technologies necessary for a more immersive 3D web experience are not yet established, and it is not yet clear how much it will affect the way that we view the web as a whole.

The three potential visions of the web discussed here are not mutually exclusive, but instead are likely to be combined in many as yet unthought-of combinations in the future, along with other new technologies. While Web 2.0 has been surrounded by a lot of hype and argument, we can’t get away from the fact that the way we use the web, as well as the content on it, has changed, and will continue to change in the future. Those who gain the most from the web will be those at the forefront of the change, not those playing catchup.

Augmented Reality and Interactive Books by Hitlab

Web Squared

Last September, the 5th annual Web 2.0 Summit was held by O’Reilly Media and Techweb, and in the lead-up to this they proposed the term “Web Squared” to refer to the way Web 2.0 has been evolving and is going to continue to evolve in future. While this term has not been embraced by the online community the way “Web 2.0” was, it’s still intereting to consider their thoughts for the future.

Dale Dougherty actually coined the term “Web 2.0” in a planning session for a conference in 2004, and this term has been in common usage ever since. The conference, organised by Dougherty and Tim O’Reilly, was looking at the dotcom crash, and examining why some companies had gone down with it, and why others were able to survive, and the conclusion they drew was that some companies were able to exploit the technology in different ways – eg Amazon, Wikipedia and eBay – because they were allowing a collective group of users  to shape the way the internet was used.  It’s hard to believe that Facebook, Twitter and YouTube didn’t exist 5 years ago, but look at the way they have altered our use of the web today!

Web 1.0 Web 2.0
DoubleClick –> Google AdSense
Ofoto –> Flickr
Akamai –> BitTorrent
mp3.com –> Napster
Britannica Online –> Wikipedia
personal websites –> blogging
evite –> upcoming.org and EVDB
domain name speculation –> search engine optimization
page views –> cost per click
screen scraping –> web services
publishing –> participation
content management systems –> wikis
directories (taxonomy) –> tagging (“folksonomy”)
stickiness –> syndication

(from Tim O’Reilly, What is Web 2.0, 2005)

“Web 2.0 is the era when people have come to realize that it’s not the software that enables the web that matters so much as the services that are delivered over the web. Web 1.0 was the era when people could think that Netscape (a software company) was the contender for the computer industry crown; Web 2.0 is the era when people are recognizing that leadership in the computer industry has passed from traditional software companies to a new kind of internet service company. The net has replaced the PC as the platform that matters, just as the PC replaced the mainframe and minicomputer” (Tim O’Reilly Aug 5, 2005)

Now, Tim O’Reilly and  Jennifer Pahika are proposing a new term to describe the exponential shift in the way the web is being used – Web Squared – which is well worth considering:

“Whereas the advent of Web 2.0 marked a profound shift in the meaning of the Web, this next phase is less a new direction than an exploration of what becomes possible when the building blocks of Web 2.0 (such as participation, collective intelligence and so on) increase by orders of magnitude.” (The Web-Squared Era)

“The Web is no longer a collection of static pages of HTML that describe something in the world. Increasingly, the Web is the world – everything and everyone in the world casts an “information shadow,” an aura of data which, when captured and processed intelligently, offers extraordinary opportunity and mind bending implications. Web Squared is our way of exploring this phenomenon and giving it a name.” (Web 2.0 2009 Summit)