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