One of the most frustrating experiences in writing about new a technology platform is to find out about it years after its introduction. This painful reality has been my experience with Web 2.0 and Web 3.0. I must have been asleep when these terms were introduced several years ago. On the other hand, marketers are still trying to make sense of Web 2.0 and capitalize on it. Web 3.0 has years of development ahead. Putting all that aside, I have some thoughts that may prove helpful to professionals who feel like the obsolete man in Twilight Zone.
It seems that some of the best people to help with the implementation of Web 3.0 are English majors, back-of-the-book indexers and librarians. Their expertise with grammatical structure and pointing people to the correct information is perfectly suited for the semantic (logical) aspects of future web development. In fact, liberal arts and science majors may play a key role in helping Web 3.0 make the transition from hallway conversations to reality.
For a long time, liberal arts majors and those who studied the humanities have been the subject of much derision. At work, they were viewed as a necessary evil. Consequently, they were paid on the low end of the wage scale and treated accordingly. Nevertheless, people with these degrees are creative, out-of-the-box thinkers who can engineer imaginative solutions. As Web 3.0 unfolds for at least the rest of this decade, they are finally in a position to realize some well-deserved financial success and recognition.
Web 3.0, a platform sometimes called the semantic web, will call for critical thinking, logic and rhetorical skills that are common stock among English majors. It will also call for metadata skills (i.e., information about information) that are the domain of librarians and back-of-the-book indexers. One of the primary objects of Web 3.0 is to give our devices the tools to understand information that exists on the Internet and retrieve it according to individual needs and preferences. Did you catch that? Our devices will have the tools to understand existing information. To implement these measures, web designers will require people who are comfortable with logical problems, critical thinking and the pure drudgery of creating and maintaining controlled metadata. In other words, they’ll need educated professionals.
Web 2.0 was about giving ordinary people a platform for web content development. You’re looking at one of the tools of Web 2.0 right now. Other examples include Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Facebook and Wikipedia. Wikipedia gave ordinary people the ability to contribute to a global knowledge base. The limitation of Web 2.0, however, is that it created a tsunami of information that may or may not be helpful to individuals who are looking for extremely specific answers to tough problems.
Note: One of the most interesting aspects of Wikipedia history has been the need for a referee. Academic institutions still do not trust Wikipedia as a reliable source, even though professors may encourage students to use it as a starting point. On the other hand, Wikipedia has begun to exercise some oversight and restrict the content posted. Proper attribution and the citation of reliable sources is key to Wikipedia’s future success. This effort will require the guidance of professionals. Nevertheless, its strength will continue to be the widely distributed and collective intelligence of many points of view.
Web 3.0 will work behind the scenes to direct people to real answers for their questions and problems. That’s where expertise in a variety of fields, the liberal arts and sciences, will become indispensable in the development of this platform. Furthermore, I believe true experts have an unparalleled opportunity to realize a payoff on their intellectual capital by using Web 2.0 to publish their content while Web 3.0 swiftly and efficiently directs appropriate audiences to their content.
Comparatively speaking, Web 2.0 is a mountain of useful and useless books, magazines and multimedia chaotically piled up by a giant tsunami of technology we call social media. Web 3.0, if properly realized, will be a library that organizes every publication within a super organized structure of metadata and ontologies (i.e., describing or classifying things according to their relationships). In Web 2.0, you might find the information you need after sifting through a variety of information you didn’t need. In Web 3.0, your device will find the information you need quickly and deliver it to you.
Web 3.0 is currently projected to be with us for the rest of this decade. I don’t know if that’s true or not. Web 4.0 or something better may replace it long before the decade is out. The key, however, is to take advantage of it while it lasts, and it’s just getting started. You’ve probably heard of the new privacy policies being tested by Google and Facebook. Perhaps you’ve also heard that Google is preparing to release Knowledge Graph, a new search tool. All of these developments are preparing the way for Web 3.0, but organizations, companies and individuals will need the people I’ve described in this entry to deploy it effectively. Don’t give up on the liberal arts, the sciences or education. It’s worth the investment.