In the wake of the 2008 Web 2.0 expo, now 3½ years since the first Web 2.0 conference in 2004, it seems getting time to work out what will succeed Web 2.0. I always thought that Web 2.0 was a useful and meaningful term, and created my Web 2.0 Framework to help unpack and communicate what it is. The term helped people to understand the nature of the shift from Web as communication to Web as participation.
I’ve also long thought that Web 3.0 is a meaningless term. It means whatever people want it to mean. While we have reached a reasonably common understanding of what Web 2.0 is (though I’m sure others will disagree), I don’t think it’s possible that any consensus will emerge on what Web 3.0 is, making its use a destroyer rather than enabler of communication. The one element that people always associate with Web 3.0 is the semantic web, which has been a very long time coming, and will still be a very long time coming. It’s a tremendous, laudable goal which is still going to take far longer than most people seem to think, so it’s not something we should be talking about in the present. Anyway, the semantic web already has a term to describe it, and it is well defined, so why do we need to use a new term to refer it?
I’ve been a long time student of how business and technology terms are born, brought into widespread usage, debased, and die. I don’t believe that Web 3.0 will be a term that be useful or used. Charles Cooper has just tried to define Web 2.5, which is even worse – yes I agree with him that it’s about time to dump Web 2.0, but the answer is NOT Web 2.5! However we absolutely need new terms to describe where the web is going and what it means.
In my recent post on openness in the Internet I used the term Wide Open Web (WOW). On consideration I think this is a fair suggestion to describe the current and next stage of the web. There are undoubtedly many other possibilities, and I think it’s time for the proposals to come out, so the most relevant and useful term comes into usage, rather than terms such as Web 2.5, that are even more meaningless than Web 3.0, and don’t help anyone understand what is going on.