In the last decade the internet has expanded at a phenomenal rate into our daily lives. More of the technology we use is connected to, and interacts with, the internet. As this happens, the technology evolves at an exponential rate and the power of the internet evolves with it. Our greatest interaction with the internet is through the world wide web. Currently we are in the era of Web 3.0 which many designers are unaware of. How did we get here, where are we going and as designers what do we need to do?
How It Began – Web 1.0
The world wide web entered the public domain in the 1990s. Although the terms “web” and “internet” are used interchangeably, there are differences between the two. The internet is the physical infrastructure whereas the web is the interface to access it. Or to put simply, “the internet gives life to the web.”
Web 1.0 was much simpler compared to today’s Web 3.0. It only allowed people to read static pages. These pages lacked any interactivity (being read only) but it was the first stage of hyperlinking web pages globally. From this version of the web the first online facility for human to human and computer to computer communication emerged. Web 1.0 gave people the power of content, the power of links with networks and (the most important) power of communication.
What It Became – Web 2.0
Web 2.0 became the standard model for the modern web. It appeared around the millenium as a result of cultural and technological changes. As more people accessed the web, the way web pages were designed, developed and used changed. The most significant change occurred when users were able to create their own content. It became the read-write web.
During the web 2.0 era we’ve seen a huge rise in social media such as Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter. There has been an explosion in self generated content such as blogs, as well as wikis like Wikipedia– the first knowledge sharing platform. Technology has also advanced to allow video sharing on platforms such as YouTube or Vimeo. Web 2.0 interacts more with the end user, who is not only the user but a participant too. The user participates by:
- Social networking
- Contributing to RSS
- Tagging (people, locations e.t.c)
In summary, Web 2.0 is focused on the user and communities, along with their needs. The web is no longer a platform to just provide information (from companies to consumers for example) but a place where everyone can participate. All users can create content to share with other users.
Where It Is Going – Web 3.0
Web 3.0 is the era we are currently in and experience on an everyday basis. It is also known as the ‘Semantic’ web. The web has become ‘smarter’ and uses artificial intelligence (AI) as part of content creation. The main concept of Web 3.0 is the web itself will be able to understand the content it holds. With this knowledge it will be able to predict, and respond better to, the demands of the user. This AI has the ability to learn and to make a better User Experience.
Compared to Web 2.0, Web 3.0 is:
- Uses artificial intelligence
- Changes the content into a language which can be easily systematised and categorised by the system rather than humans
- A web of data
The Rise of Skynet?
In the beginning, Web 1.0 was about setting out what the internet could be. Web 2.0 was about filling the internet with data from the Users. Web 3.0 is all about taking that data and seeing what is possible. As designers we need to be aware of how the web is changing. With this knowledge we need to be able to predict what is going to happen next. What will the web become? How will people interact with it going forward? How much of our everyday lives will be influenced by it?
If designers don’t do this then who knows what will happen. Maybe pretty soon the web will be able to learn from users behaviours and Design on its own. Could we be designing Skynet, or has it already started?