Entering the internet time period that people will call Web 3.0 is inevitable, but the specifics of what web 3.0 is or will include is up for debate. There have been a number of articles written about Web 3.0 since Tim O’Reilly’s web 2.0 article in 2005– see here, here, and here. BUT instead of hypothesizing about Web 3.0, I thought I’d focus on the next wave of Web 2.0 technology. This has been a work in progress for awhile, but I think I finally finished my thoughts.

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  1. Merging of Blogging and Social Networking
  2. API’s become Vital
  3. Continued Rise of Wiki’s (user-generated content)
  4. Mobile Web Applications Take Off
  5. RSS as a search tool

First of all, blogging and social networking seem to be on a direct crash course. I’ve definitely noticed that I don’t surf around myspace or facebook anymore since I’ve started blogging. Todays social networks don’t cater to conversation; they just provide another way to keep track of your connections. Blogs will become a person’s online profile and I’d even go so far as to say I think a blog may become almost as necessary as e-mail is today. A developer, or possibly a company like Mybloglog, will figure out a way to add all the benefits of a social network to blogs. A plug-in to enable people to track all of their RSS feeds from their blog’s control panel would be a great addition to blogging platforms. In essence, building the features of myYahoo! into a blog’s control panel. Another thing I see happening with blogging is even better integration of comments into a blog. Cocomment has done a great job so far, but I would argue there are still serious improvements that can be made – both in terms of customization and integration. In the end, many of these tools will migrate themselves into the admin tool – probably starting with WordPress since it’s open source and WIDELY used.

Second, a web company will be hard pressed to succeed without an API for developers to innovate with. To help you realize the benefit of being “everywhere,” here is a great quote from Google CEO Eric Schmidt

We don’t have the resources to build all these,” says [Google CEO Eric] Schmidt. “We are critically dependent upon the creation of the developer community.” The bigger he can make it, he says, the better off and unassailable he makes Google. It is, he says, “the No. 1 goal … it creates so much good will, so much leverage, so much user traffic, so much benefit.

It seems everyone is racing out with Open API’s, following the trend that Google, Salesforce, and Yahoo have been so successful with. Flickr, Facebook, YouTube, and Zillow (my employer) are among the young companies to put their initial API’s out there for developers to innovate with. Companies that try to control their content will struggle to grow their market in the emerging web environment that is becoming more and more personalized. Web 2.0 content is meant to be free – meaning wherever consumers want to see it.

Third, the web will see the continual rise of Wiki’s following the amazing things Wikipedia has accomplished. One thing that may cause Wiki usage to take off is the possibility that “Google may be planning to deliver a multi-community version of Wikipedia.” We’ve already seen user-generated content explode onto the scene — just look at myspace, facebook, eBay, and Flickr. Topic specific wikis will spring up on a variety of web sites. However, the thing many don’t realize is the difficulty it is to build a vibrant community to contribute to a wiki. I think many probably think they can just slap together a wiki and people will magically contribute. I bet there are thousands of instances of Media Wiki (one-click open source install on many server accounts) installed on random sites that get almost zero pick up.

Fourth, mobile applications will experience massive growth. When I was in Europe a year and a half ago, I realized how far behind the US is in terms of mobile use. Myspace partnered with Helio. Facebook has Facebook Mobile. Mobile is the future (mobile 2.0).

Fifth, RSS is going to be extended as a search tool. Full disclosure — I originally got this particular idea from a presentation John Battelle gave at the Blog Business Summit. Back to the idea, all the data is available in RSS — developers have just yet to build all the tools on top of that data to make it extremely useful to everyday internet users. Imagine an application that searches through all your RSS feeds in your reader for a particular keyword. Or if you could tag your RSS feeds and search through categories of RSS feeds. Google has already realized the value of narrowed searches with their Google Co-Op product — allowing a user to search a specified list of URL’s. There is lots of room for improvement in utilizing RSS data — probably many I’m not even thinking about.

What do you think is the next wave of technical advances or user adoption??

  • There’s a lot to cover here, but I’m going to hit on just the two that I find the most compelling:

    Social networks and blogging:
    I agree that people’s online identities will be tied into their “own” platforms more and more. In a lot of cases this is a blog, but since the social networks are also offering these features that will suffice for many (most?) of the users.

    I think it’s easy to forget how far advanced many of us in the technology space are compared to our much more normal friends and family. If they have a blog, it’s likely that you set it up and talked them into it (at least it is for me). They don’t follow the same conversations and arguments on platforms that we do, and they don’t really care about the newest “cool tool”.

    Mobile apps:
    This is huge, especially internationally like you said, it’s only a matter of time before the usage picks up here in the US as well. The trick is to make applications usable and useful on this platform. Gmail and PayPal Mobile are two of the best that I’ve seen so far.

    Of all the things you mentioned, I believe the merging of the mobile space with the web apps we have now is going to be the most exciting.

  • Great article! My two cents on next wave…

    If you define UGC (user generated content) as community driven content and traffic that include users, developers and other websites, (e.g. Digg in essence creates meta data about community ranks to your site’s articles), I think UGC will play a huge role in directing traffic. For many things, I value community votes more than results of a search engine. Let’s say I type in “good deals for houses in California”. I want stuff a community thinks is valuable over what Google Search returns, i.e. self-proclaimed “good deals”.

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  • Drew Meyers

    I’m not sure that I agree 100%. I think part of the Google-magic is that they DO use the community to improve search results. For instance, sites with lots of links from known authoritative sites are given higher rankings — the people linking to sites is essentially giving the site a positive rating. But, that doesn’t mean there is not room for improvement (there certainly is)!

  • I want my Web 3.0 NOW!

  • Hey Drew,

    That’s true, My experience is that community rankings are fresher and more relevant. I can choose which community ranks a site or article well versus a generic fit-for-all search. Also, while communities are more fickle, they are also more up-to-date now.

    Page-rank is fundamentally based on voting, but by site’s content. I just think communities where motivated and *fair* individuals do the voting give even more useful results. Wouldn’t be surprised if this gets baked into search.

  • Keep up the good work! Nice blog!