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Did You Say Web 4.0? Twitter Facebook Print E-mail
Written by Tom Welch   
Wednesday, 19 November 2008

For the last few years the phrase 2.0 has been a technological buzzword. Recently I read an article discussing the future of the Web, and the roadmap for Web 3.0 and beyond. I thought that I would share with you what I have learned.

What is the difference between Web 1.0, Web 2.0, Web 3.0, and Web 4.0? Although the lines between them are blurred, here is my take on the differences.

Web 1.0

When the Internet gained momentum, one of the primary benefits was the ability of people and organizations to share information. As the Web grew, tools were developed to help people using the Web find information with ease and accuracy. Tools and technology were developed to facilitate searching, and utilizing the Web in mainstream, everyday fashion. People figured out how to help people use the Web to serve customers, play games, advertise products and services, and share just about every type of information.

All of these Web sites, however, were separate and distinct sites that had little in common with each other.

Some of the technologies developed during this stage of the Web include:

  • File and Web Servers
  • Content and Enterprise Portals
  • Search Engines (AltaVista, Yahoo!) 
  • PIMS (Personal Information Managers)
  • E-mail (Yahoo!, Hotmail)
  • P2P File Sharing (Napster, BitTorrent)
  • Publish and Subscribe Technologies 

Web 2.0

It didn’t take long for companies and individuals to figure out the power of community. As Web participation grew, people realized that they could leverage and utilize communities to create and share content in ways previously unharnessed. Web 2.0 or “the Social Web” was an effort to enable individuals from all around the world to participate in content creation and sharing, and to enhance individual Web users’ experience.

Many of the mega “.com” companies grew out of the Web 2.0 era, including Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, eBay, and Flickr.

Some of the key technologies developed during this stage of the Web include:

  • Blogs (Blogger)
  • Wikis (Wikipedia)
  • Social Bookmarking (
  • Social Networks (Facebook, MySpace)
  • Instant Messaging (Yahoo!, Google Talk, AIM)
  • Mash-ups
  • Auction Web sites (eBay)
  • Professional Networking (Linked-in, Plaxo)

Web 3.0

Web technologies have traditionally focused on connecting content and allowing people to interact and collaborate. However, the systems that were connecting the content had no knowledge about relationships between the information that they were connecting. Web 3.0 endeavors to connect the information of the Web together in new ways.

Searching in the Web 2.0 world is keyword based. In other words, you search for a word or phrase, such as “basketball,” and the search engine returns all content with “basketball” in it.

Web 3.0 takes this searching to the next step. In the Web 3.0 world, searching for “basketball” would find documents with the word “basketball” in it. It would also find related results, such as NBA Teams, Utah Jazz, professional sports, etc.

Web 1.0 and 2.0 were designed to share data that the user can understand but that was transparent to the computer. HTML, for example, describes how content should look but does not tell the user (or the computer) anything about what the content is. Web 3.0 will utilize semantic technologies that describe what an item is, not just how it should look. Basketball, for example, is a sport, has players that make up a team, involves a ball, is played on a court, etc. This semantic information will allow computers to look up other matches based on similar properties.

Some of the key technologies that are being developed during this stage of the Web include:

  • Ontologies (YAGO, DBPedia)
  • Semantic Searching
  • Thesauri and Taxonomies
  • Personal Intelligent Digital Assistants
  • Knowledge Bases

Web 4.0

Once Web 3.0 technologies are firmly entrenched in the World Wide Web, the next step will be to develop technologies that have the ability to learn and reason. Developing intelligent systems will require all of the building blocks of Web 1.0, Web 2.0, and Web 3.0. Technologies will not just be able to connect information or connect knowledge through semantic techniques, but they will be able to apply the knowledge shared between data items and define context to do basic reasoning. For example, if I’m doing research on Apple Computers, I would not want my research to include recipes of apple pies or how to prune an apple tree.

Examples of key technologies that will or are being developed include:

  • Semantic Social Networks (Twine)
  • Semantic E-mail (IBM Omnifind)
  • Context-Aware Games
  • Better Natural Language Processing

Benefits to the Church

As Web technologies evolve and become more intelligent, the benefits to the Church will be great. Imagine preparing for a talk and finding relevant scriptures, conference talks, Church magazine articles, and other content available on by typing in topics instead of search phrases. Genealogy research could expand by combining semantic searching on relatives with locations or time periods. Utilizing the collective knowledge of Church members, more humanitarian or volunteer work can be done to serve others.

The future of the Web offers a very exciting future for Church technologies. Share with me your opinions on the future of the Web.

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