Saturday, November 18, 2006

Web 3.0 - You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet!

Web 3.0. The recently coined term that has many in the blogosphere screaming "Stop the keyword hype!" and others waxing hopeful that the next wave of Internet progress is finally starting to percolate. Before the seed has even sprouted roots, already bloggers are asking "but will it make any money?". Donna Bogatin asks this very question in her blog post "Will Web 3.0 Be In The Green?".

It would be easy to write this question off under the category of being one that is far too soon to ask. It appears that this question, and a host of others, will be stuck with us for the decades ahead, due to the irrational exuberance that poisoned the dot-com bubble. Hopefully once the Web 3.0 bubble truly gets under way, and there definitely will be one, bloggers like her will remain the sober watchdogs that were missing from the tulipmania of the dot-com bubble. I fear that many of the ones now linkbaiting in their blogs with early cries of foul against Web 3.0, will rapidly change course once the rampant euphoria begins to flourish. They will do so to persist their linkbaiting activities and because the euphoria that will accompany Web 3.0 will make the current Web 2.0 mania seem harmless by comparison.

Why do I make such troubling assertions now, especially when you consider that I am one of those looking with great hope to Web 3.0? Although many are looking at Web 3.0 as the next extension of the social networking technologies pioneered in Web 2.0, and others are dismissing it as a marketing ploy to rekindle interest in the Semantic Web, I feel there is a stronger theme that will drive Web 3.0 to explosive levels.

First I need to make a crucial point about what I feel will be the primary driver of Web 3.0. I will return to my cautions on the upcoming hyper-euphoria that will accompany Web 3.0 in a few paragraphs. Please read on.

I feel that Web 3.0 will be characterized and fueled by the successful marriage of artificial intelligence and the web. Artificial Intelligence? Isn't that the kool-aid that the Semantic Web community is drinking? Yes and no. The technologies considered pivotal in the Semantic Web are indeed considered by many to have their underpinnings in artificial intelligence. But, most of the Semantic Web projects I've seen are focused squarely on the creation of, and communication between, intelligent agents that do the natural language and topical matching work in a transparent manner, behind the scenes, without requiring human intervention.

This approach may eventually be viable but I feel that it misses a key ingredient of Web 3.0 that will finally bring artificial intelligence to the forefront. Currently the vast majority of artificial intelligence is embedded in various niche areas of commerce such as credit card fraud detection, or the speech recognition application that converts your voice to text as you dictate a document, etc. The reason for this of course is that we are still decades away from computers that will have the incredible and flexible pattern recognition capabilities of the human brain.

The reason Web 3.0 will lift artificial intelligence into the limelight is it will fill in the technological gaps that currently hamper the key uses for artificial intelligence. It will do so by shunting out the parts of the problem that require a human being to human beings with the help of the web. But, it will do so in a manner that is transparent, massively parallel, and distributed.

Amazon has taken a unique and innovative step into this area with their Mechanical Turk web service. Yes I know this is the second time I've written glowingly about Amazon in regards to Web 3.0, but as a web service junkie you have to love what they are doing. The Turk service allows developers to shunt out the parts of their applications that require human intervention to a paid participating group of volunteer workers, in a manner that mimics a standard web service call. This creates a standardized platform for utilizing human pattern recognition capacity in a modular manner. Google is another company experimenting with something similar with their Google Image Labeler game. From the game page:

"You'll be randomly paired with a partner who's online and using the feature. Over a 90-second period, you and your partner will be shown the same set of images and asked to provide as many labels as possible to describe each image you see."

The players have fun and Google gets thousands of images tagged with relevant text labels.

Now let's take this bold new technology and extrapolate further. Suppose Second Life created games where the players were solving complex problems to have fun, except these problems were actually key commerce problems that needed to be solved?

For example, imagine a game where players compete to clothe a runway model that will be judged in a contest by other players. This game could very well be a job requisition submitted by a major fashion company that wants to get advanced market research on what clothes buyers will prefer. The virtual clothes in the game could be detailed in-game 3D objects that are exact duplicates of the fashion company's artwork for their clothing. The difference between this and someone just holding a contest will be the way that is structured. All the set-up, problem specification, and solution propagation aspects of the problem will be part of a standardized Web 3.0 service call instead of the ad hoc hand crafting of a live virtual contest event.

This could be taken to an even more abstract level where instead of a problem that has a direct mapping to a real life business event, like the fashion designer example, but instead requires a more subtle decision that needs human intervention. For example, the player is in a game and is presented with two different kinds of sounds coming from different directions. He or she is told to follow the sound that feels the most pleasing in order to find the treasure. This could actually be a sub-job submitted by an automotive company that is trying out different interior designs for a car. As each interior design is acoustically modeled, an MP3 file is generated using various environmental test sounds, which are then punched into the game. The game player is having fun chasing ambient sounds looking for treasure, but is actually telling the car manufacturer which interior acoustic space is more pleasing. Since there could be potentially thousands of players, the car manufacturer can have thousands of sound files analyzed in parallel leading to an immense time savings. In the end, the players have fun, the game company gets paid extra earnings for this service, and the automotive company saves money avoiding designs that people won't like because they sound bad.

It's not hard to see that once this kind of service becomes popular, other additions to the typical service call would include the number of redundant tests to make for each case, plug-ins for getting textual input or votes from the task assignee (the player in the game examples), etc.

I will conclude this article with a warning on the upcoming hyper-euphoria. I saw first hand how people lost their fiscal sanity during the first wave of the artificial intelligence hype a few decades ago. Can you imagine how easily investors will become hypnotized by the spell of new technology offerings? Offerings with Star Trek sounding buzzwords, that will make some of the insane claims on the average dot-com prospectus seem tame by comparison. The raw fear of being left behind by technologies and services so futuristic, that images of flying cars will abound in people's heads, will make wallets gush cash again and retirement plans evaporate.

This will only happen if we haven't learned our lesson from previous manias. In closing I have this to say to the doubters and the pundits out there currently warming up to covering Web 3.0, whether for or against. Stay sharp and focused. We'll need you.

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At 9:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You misspelled 'marriage'...

At 9:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is more discussion on Slashdot on this link:

At 9:31 AM, Blogger roschler said...

Corrected, thanks!

At 9:58 AM, Anonymous Alex said...

I'm with the "stop the buzzword" group.

Interesting speculations, but I think it's a bit pointless to try and categorize a "3.0" version of the web when 2.0 is already such a nebulous and vague categorization.

Companies have been making lots of money on the web since version.. oh I don't know, let's say 0.2, to coin another near-meaningless categorization. Companies will continue to "make the web green" by using innovative methods. It's not a bandwagon to jump on.

Success doesn't come from being 2.0, or 3.0, it comes from delivering on what your customers/audience expects, or demands. It has little to nothing to do with whatever the buzz style or technology is. Sure, anyone can use the tools to do interesting things, but that doesn't make a business, it's just one of the many tools to use.

Don't get me wrong, I love the new tools, innovative uses, and cleaner graphics that this silly buzz has helped promote. There's a few companies utilizing that to really create new markets for themselves, but they're the exceptions not the rule. This is the way it will always be. Most people getting swept up in the hype use it as a crutch, relying on the newness and buzz to get them attention without paying any attention to having a business plan.

It doesn't matter if it's web 1.0 or web 42.0, the medium is solidly established. The technology changes are ALMOST irrelevant. It will permute constantly, but only those companies that ignore the buzz and pay attention to their target will be the ones making it green.

At 10:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I miss Web 1.0--back when most authors had enough sense to use black text on a white background.

At 10:24 AM, Anonymous Ryan said...

Wow, I think you're right on the money, so to speak.

Max Weber described a process of "parceling-out of the soul", parcels containing the as yet impossible to emulate trick of human categorization. Internet technology adds the capability for an unprecedented level of aggregation the process and what results turns out to look an awful lot like AI.

The champions of this new web will be the ones who figure out really useful ways to abstract human categorization. Doing aesthetic design, writing novels, composing music?

To take it to SF extremes, machines can do everything better then we can, except they can’t make abstract categorizations. The utopian version of events sees a crop of humans sitting pretty, providing the abstract categorizations to advance unfathomable machine goals. Dystopian version is human brain meat in jars doing the same thing. Web 4.0?

At 10:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

see chatterbot mathetes at In three years of continual use it is the most superior chatbot with learning capacity. It has not gotten as much attention as it should because of its Catholic Personality.

Also last post on, regarding GEWIS:

At 10:46 AM, Anonymous steve said...

I'm sorry, but you're missing steps in your visualisation of how things will unfold.

How will Artifical Intelligence integrate? What precise mechanism will be used? How will the division between computer and human be algorithmically applied?

Yes, things are headed that way, but it's not Web 3.0 or Browser 4.7, or anything like that.

It will be based on technology that people haven't seen before, applied with innovative techniques that haven't been seen before, using ideas that haven't been thought of before.

We don't need to drag failed stuff out of the rubbish bin of history to create another AI debacle.

At 10:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

>> You misspelled 'marriage'...
> Corrected, thanks!

Web 2.0 at its best...Let the masses do your job -- so you don't have to.

At 10:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

>> You misspelled 'marriage'...
> Corrected, thanks!

Web 2.0 at its best...Let the masses do your job -- so you don't have to.

At 11:18 AM, Anonymous lewis said...


do you think people would still participate in gaming if they knew they were the subject of a feedback scheme.

maybe we should all get real and just have a small exit door the the right of the level boss where one can go and stand in front of a company representative with a clipboard.

At 12:31 PM, Blogger roschler said...

Hello everyone. I never expected this many comments so rather than reply individually I'll just have to make this broad reply.

re: Spell checker

Thanks and guilty as charged. I wrote the article late last night and forgot that step.

re: rehashing failed technologies and voluntary or involuntary participation by the masses (us!).

I did refer to that in the article but I still feel strongly about the integration of human knowledge being the key difference. For example, Google does click tracking on its search results. Speculation has it that they use this data to determine what matches are better than others. Therefore, millions of people are already solving problems for Google, most without knowing it.

Specifically in regards to gamers, with the cost of games going through the roof and then some, and product placements already being accepted, I don't see this as a barrier.

re: 3.0 buzzword

I really enjoyed the Slashdot comment that reminded us on how people forget that the Internet is not the web; that other more powerful protocols may be coming than those the Web is made from. My assertion is Web 3.0 is when artificial intelligence, with human assisted shunting, is an integral part of a large body of freely available web services. That Slashdot comment offers an entirely new possibility of the support being a completely new service layer for the Internet that web applications are built on. (Note: I am still trying to find that Slashdot comment again. If anyone has a link to it, please post it as a comment).

At 2:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I feel that Web 3.0 will be characterized and fueled by the successful marriage of artificial intelligence and the web." - What, did I miss something here? Why are we talking about AI all of a sudden? Do we need another hype-combo? Guys, please... Let's stop versioning the Web, OK? It always makes me cringe when some tech writer mentions Web X.0.

At 5:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

something tells me that the market research subject / game playing drones will be from populous, developing nations like india and china

At 5:53 PM, Anonymous Steve said...

web 3.0 will be characterized by quality software engineering and the power of people.

I think is moving in this direction

At 9:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unfortunately the games described here sound massively boring to me, especially following pleasing sounds to find treasure. I'm sure everyone would just love doing that for hours, upon hours, upon hours. I would also find such games to be very vexing as well. When I'm playing a game it's because I don't want to be doing work for any company, especially a car company that wants to make pleasing sounds. Games help me escape the corporate world of responsiblilty, I don't want to be harvested for data while I'm playing them.

At 6:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that was the comment you meant?

At 6:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You might find this blog interesting:

At 8:21 AM, Blogger Neumann said...

Hi, I am a brazilian journalist writing a piece ond web 3.0, could you help me by answering some questions? Please e-mail me at


At 8:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

People who use terms like 'blogosphere' without batting an eyelash have no place saying anything about buzzwords.

Anyway, others have said it, but the reason AI isn't used for this already is because the tech is not developed enough, and the vaguely referenced elements of technology which will magically spring into existence for 'web 3.0' are not currently extant or feasible.

When that technology matures, yes, it will provide a HUGE boost to all sorts of internet applications... but no, it's not just going to jump out of nowhere because people start posting about it, and I would say it's highly unlikely that the technology required will actually come from internet-related industries.

There's a whole field of research maturing beyond the reach of most casual internet browsers... when it's ready to be applied in the general case, we'll see it affect the web, but probably not in the ways or to the degree you might expect.

At 9:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"You'll be randomly paired with a partner who's online and using the feature. Over a 90-second period, you and your partner will be shown the same set of images and asked to provide as many labels as possible to describe each image you see."

The players have fun and Google gets thousands of images tagged with relevant text labels.

You're kidding right? Why are we trying to create new technologies and THEN stumble around trying to think of biz models that could use these things. Web 2.0 was just a set of interface features that were already there and nothing to build a biz model around. If there was a lesson to be learned from the bubble, its that you can’t just put up a website and expect people to show up and give you their money. We need to stop trying to make it sound like one can “build a website and they will come” and thus you should focus all your energies on maintainability. Hell, with web 2.0 I see a handful working sites that are infinitely maintainable but no one ever visits. Now it’s Web 3.0! Brought to you by the buzzword “A.I.” (I highly doubt anyone reading or writing on this thread has any idea what A.I. really is). Apparently now that we have the interface down we revisit the search engine (again.). I say start solving problems, right now were just inventing new ones that nobody really even cares to solve (e.g. why can’t blogger XYZ make any money off of his lousy content?).

At 9:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree, but the applications you cite are still too few and narrow in scope to actually define this gamut of services as Web 3.0...Web 2.5..umm... maybe...but Web 3.0 seems a bit stretched. That is provided Web 2.0 itself is clearly define, which no one who I talk to seems very sure of. But we are all getting there, roughly. But a simple extension of Web 2.0 to a few new applications and classifying the whole thing as 3.0 (which personally to me should be a transformation of sorts, based on some new technology, much as AJAX was to 2.0) is something different, which simply amounts to a bit of a controlled hype posting on your part. My two cents.

At 10:54 PM, Anonymous Berlin said...

Web 2.0 was coined by O'Reilly and company because there was a need to categorized the return of the VCs, user-generated/appropriated content and so forth. Web 3.0 is for bragging rights only (yeah dude we coined that phrase dude, cool!) and they might as well patent it.

At 10:47 AM, Anonymous Jonathan Bruder said...

It matters little what you call the next iteration of what we think of as the web. People that are afraid of buzzwords are just as elitist as those that rely on them. The fact is, Web 2.0, regardless of its commercial etymology, has come to mean a feeling of social interconnectedness empowered by the internet. Indeed, the hypesters that sold Web 2.0 were trying to sell that feeling - in much the same way that Malls in the early 80s were trying to sell "Shopping" as a feeling of social empowerment*.

Ultimately, Web 2.0 is about a shift in the relationship between society and technology; part of which is real change, and part of which is perceived change. It may be that we have a new way of seeing something that already existed (ala xmlhttprequest), or that we are seeing something that isn't there. Either way, the feeling is real, and the paradigm has changed.

I'm of the opinion that it's okay to embrace the search for the next shift, and it's okay to sit and wait for it to come to you. But it doesn't matter if you call it Web 3.0 or not; the way we experience the web will change, as will the way the web helps us experience each other.

*See True Stories, a 1986 David Byrne movie about changing perceptions in a small fictional town.

At 5:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One thing that hasn't been learned since the bubble is that during the bubble the VCs were sold a "bill of goods" that really never delivered. Many VCs literally were cheated out of thier money. I just don't see anything different in web 2.0, just less amounts of money flowing. Why not get back to the old fashioned "problem solving" model for new biz. Instead of inventing new tools and trying to make biz models around them, how about using tech to solve a real world problemsand stop trying to rip off the VCs with yet another game of buzzword bingo. And all this talk about web 3.0 (the AI search engine? what my computer will just happen to have all the pages I'm about to surf for? yippy skippy!) is no different, yet another set of buzzwords hoping to sucker the VCs out of thier money.

please make it stop, yer a bunch of hobbiests!

At 2:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For example, imagine a game where players compete to clothe a runway model that will be judged in a contest by other players. This game could very well be a job requisition submitted by a major fashion company that wants to get advanced market research on what clothes buyers will prefer.

This reminds me of Douglas Adams' replacement for the improbability drive(I believe called the Bistro Drive) where the driving force of the ship is the crew members sitting in an Italian Bistro attempting to accurately split the tab.

At 7:05 PM, Blogger James said...

I have two words for you, Energy and Efficiency. Solve these two equations and you will see the shift.
There is also one more issue that should be considered. The event of singularity is such that we (humans) will not know when it happens, only that it did. There will come a time when one day we were typing on keyboards, and some time later we are asking computers for answers to questions while we are watching the cinematographic hologram. We will not know when computers woke up, but when they do, we will adjust, as we always have. It is our nature to adapt to our environment.
Lack of capital resources holds back development more than fear, fear only fuels the media, real development happens when economies are there to provide the resources for that development. Right now the larger obstacle to AI and other forms of advanced technology is energy, and efficiency. Until commerce finds the economic profit model in those areas, the developments in web or any other field of technology will only be the subject of blogs and Science Fiction.

At 6:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

More comments from JAMES please!

This guy knows what he is talking about! Absolutely spot on 100% accurate.

I tip my hat in your direction!

As for the author - indeed an insightful and interesting read - I also like you visionary stance!

At 1:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am intrigued by videogame slavery. I like it. I personally would like to find ways of enslaving my fellow citizens but so far Web 2.0 has not given me this possibility and this makes me feel unfulfilled.

So maybe what Web 3.0 is about is pushing the limits of mutual human slavery and finally giving each and every person what they have wanted since the dawn of time: Absolute power over others!

Perhaps we will ALL have videogames made out of widget thingamabobs to control people with.

At 12:38 AM, Anonymous dX-Xel said...

wow..maybe I'll should plan to develop web 3.0 from now..

At 1:13 PM, Anonymous Mazen said...


Well I share many of your views indeed, however you built on the super realistic approach.

I just do not see it coming anytime soon since we are still exploring web 2.0, hence why my notion is even a bit more futuristic.

I have blogged about it here:
Insights for web 3.0


At 3:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you read the definition by Sramana Mitra on Web 3.0? Links: Links:

At 4:10 AM, Anonymous Viral Vandre said...

Well, a few more comments on this!

Web 3.0 is sometimes called Semantic Web, a term coined by Tim Berners Lee, the man who first invented www.

Web 2.0 came to describe almost any site, service, or technology that promoted sharing and collaboration right down to the Net’s grassroots as in blogs and wikis, tags and RSS feeds, and Flickr, My Space and You Tube. Web 3.0 will have 4 main features like a Semantic Web where a machine or robot can read a website or check our daily schedules; 3D Web-a virtual walk through unfamilier places without leaving one’s own seat; Media-centric searches understanding natural-lauguage queries or photos, and the Pervasive Web that’s everywhere-on your PC, on your cellphone, on your cloths, jewelry, your kitchen, bathroom and office. Microsoft and Google are moving to 3D.,, are offering simple prototypes. Web 3.0 is here for sure. But it has to be experienced.


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