The World Wide Web is already a tremendous tool for creating and searching for content, but there is still intense intellectual debate as to it's evolution. The Internet is ever-changing, most of the time unnoticably. Hence, many users will be surprised to learn that what they are using right now is Web 2.0.

Originally, the Internet was intended to be solely user-orientated. However, with the boom of e-commerce in the 1990's and the early 21st century, the Internet became overwhelmingly commercial and dominated by gargantuan corporations. People could use the content, however it was difficult to create it.

Web 2.0 was philosophised to solve this problem. This second stage of evolution was designed to allow mass user content. This evolution is what allowed social networking and blogging. The Centre for Journalism site is an embodiment of the web 2.0 principle.

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The future is now web 3.0. The definition and hypothesis of this stage of evolution vary, due to debate of what it should be. However, there is consensus that web 3.0 may literally be the third decade of the web, and is indeed theorised to begin around 2010. Much of the debate is focussed around the development of the semantic web. Rather than a user's web activity being disjoined, the use of common technologies will allow activities to be related. For instance, if you are tagged on Facebook the event that you attended may be put onto your digital calendar. Search engines would also benefit.

The meaning of search criteria would be essential in attaining results. At present, search engines look for the words of figures that the user enters, which often leads to thousands of items of redundant data and sometimes no results that are applicable to the user. Items on the Internet would be linked to real world things, so that the search engine would literally know what the user means. Tags currently allow results to appear even when the word or figure is not available on the site. However, if the user searches for a word that is not in the tag, they will not find what they are looking for.

 

Web 3.0 would connect the Internet in such a way that an item on one website would be mixed with one on another, so that related items of information are accessible together.

The significance to Journalists? Research would be far more efficient and complete, even though it may still suffer some from inaccuraces. However, the inaccuracies that are often found cannot be solved. This is a result of web 2.0, as the democracy of the Internet makes an universal administrator unthinkable.

 

Comments

I'm glad you've had a stab at this James. I have to admit I've never quite managed to grasp the full significance of what the term Semantic Web really means. I understand the idea of linking other bits of data with calendars, for example, but that doesn't seem like such a major breakthrough. I guess I've never really seen a brilliant example that makes me understand why it's going to be such a big deal. But since Tim Berners Lee says it is... then I believe it.

Ian Reeves is head of the Centre for Journalism

I think that the main significance is the difference in the way that items of information would be searched. I think that at the moment, the internet is searched in much the same way as "control f" on Microsoft Word, in that results should meet a strict criteria to the t. Semantic searching would be significant in the development of AI, in that a system would literally know what the user is talking about without the developer having to list reams of potential search criteria or tags.

Web 3.0