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The Professional Developer Series
Volume 2, Web Development
1.5 Web Development And The Future
The internet today is what we consider web 2.0 to be. That is people may easily contribute content to the internet from a large variety of services. Web 2.0 also starts to view the web as an application platform, rather then just a platform to deliver content. Things such as video, audio, social networks, blogging software, web office software etc are all results of web 2.0 innovations. So lets discuss a little bit where the internet is going, by understanding the fundamental path of the internet you may also begin to align your career, organization, and software systems with where the internet is heading.
Web 3.0 or more specifically the semantic web, currently is and will continue to be an emerging trend on the internet. Something interesting about the next revolution of the internet is the fact that it will not necessarily change the way we see the internet, but rather the way we work with it.
The semantic web envisions an internet of data with meaning, an internet of descriptive content and syndicated data, web services, and dynamic data driven applications are all visions of the semantic web. So where can we see examples of the semantic web? Well tagging for one is a light weight version of the semantic web.
Since the purpose of tagging something is to categorize content, effectively saying that a specific set of content is synonymous with a category. This not only allows us to group content, but also to help the computer understand and analyze what properties similarly grouped content has in common. If a category is tagged frequently enough, the computer can even start to tag content on its own through analysis.
Other forms of the semantic web are also beginning to show some promise. For instance, tagging photos with specific people helps a computer (through image analysis) understand what a specific person looks like, in the future if its done enough, the same person may be identified in a random picture without any human interaction (through heuristics). Tagging of photos, and video content will also allows computers to be able to perform searches on this media accurately. This will also be a time when the physical world around us begins hooking up to the internet (microwaves, home heat, maybe even all the way down to your clothing steam iron that you use in the morning).
Though the semantic web is about more then just tagging, a more advanced type of tagging called RDF or the Resource Description Framework aims to turn the web into a huge global database through the linking of data (in a similar way to how html documents are linked). At the moment, frequently publishing public sets of data like this is un-feasable, partly over privacy concerns (and rightly so). Though RDF may be used within an organization internally to deliver data to secured external partners. Although, if you are just delivering data for content that is not of a sensative matter RDF may be perfect for seaching of that content on a public network. So while the web 3.0 is still in a very infant stage, it has recieved luk-warm, acceptance as people begin to implement it. Web 3.0 should allow for better searching, and better understanding of content in general. It may be another 10 years yet before web 3.0 is fully realized.
Web 4.0 (speculative) will give rise to the “a learning web” or a internet which is now able to begin working as a “assistant” along side humanity. The ultimate goal of the learning web will be for the internet to solve large scale problems presented by humanity through analysis of the vast amounts of data provided by humanity.
Anything from obesity to assisting in curing diseases the web 4.0 will act as a digitial assistant helping to solve problems as well as enhance humanity. I often see this happening through something called “crowd sourcing” solutions regarding specific topics. I believe that the web 4.0 is actually in a very infant stage on the internet at this moment, but I do see examples of it here and there (particularly in dating/matchmaking sites). Eventually the web 4.0 will begin to give rise to a global artificial intelligence, or several which may collaborate and act as assistants to humanity. A virtualized web will also begin to be more common place. I believe it will take 20-30 years from the peak of web 3.0 before web 4.0 is fully realized.
Web 5.0 (very speculative) Now we are starting to really push the bar, but I see web 5.0 being all about “a web of humans” or a web of interconnected beings. When we start to talk about humanity and telepathy, this is probably the most likely way humanity will achieve it. Living in a web 5.0 world it is likely that humans will no longer need to attend school as children because the sum of human knowlege is just an extension of each human.
We will probably be able to express ourselves through thoughts rather then words. The ability to control the things around us with thought will probably be commonplace by this time since almost all devices will in some way be connected to the internet. Chances are our entire body health will be monitored in realtime, distance will have no meaning any longer since we will be able to share thoughts and experiences. Machines that we use will most likely be integrated with “specialized assistants” from a web 4.0 era.
Personal simulations, will be possible. Shared data and memories will flow like water, and you will never forget anything ever again unless you want to. The technology at this point will be so integrated that there is a good chance we will be able to build and create facilities of society with our mind, storing them on computers to echo back to other users for later (i know its pretty out there but very possible).
An internet like this is at least 90-120 years away, after web 5.0 phase is complete the web as we know it will cease to exist and be replaced with the concept of a “virtual society of thoughts”. The web 5.0 by far will take the longest to build, there may be 40-50 year gap between web 5.0 and web 4.0. I would expect there will probably be several “versions” of the web 5.0 before we finally “get it right”.