From Footpaths to Freeways

October 17, 2008

Here at the Web 3.0 Event, they’re giving out t-shirt with two blanks on them, saying “Web 3.0 is to Web 2.0 what ____ is to _____”. Somewhere, there are pens, and you’re asked to fill them in.

My first thought (surprise, surprise) was that Web 3.0 is about decentralization. I couldn’t think of the right words to capture that, but Dave Beckett sat down next to me and after I explained what I was looking for suggested something I liked:

Web 3.0 is to Web 2.0 what the Web is to Walled Gardens.

This morning I thought of another angle, which I also like:

Web 3.0 is to Web 2.0 what freeways are to footpaths.

Get it? On Web 1.0 and Web 2.0, humans “walk” everywhere on the web, strolling from website to website, going about their business. Web 3.0 will allow you to zoom across sites (gathering the data you want) at inhuman (machine) speeds.

That’s not how I normally think of the web’s future, and it’s not a very pleasant view, but it may be accurate.

More broadly, what is Web 3.0?

My sense from this meeting is simple:

The good news is that Web 3.0 is the Semantic Web.

The bad news is that we still don’t know what the Semantic Web is.

That is, the long standing issues in the Semantic Web community are comparably rife within the nascent Web 3.0 community. Is it about machine learning? Is it about formal logic? Is it about sharing data? Is it about searching the natural language web?

My take, quite plainly, is that it may be about all of these, but the core is RDF-style data sharing. Natural language processing has a place in generating RDF. Formal logic has a place in helping us work with RDF data. But at heart, the core thing we need to do is share the data.

(This is my inaugural post on my new WordPress blog. I decided I wanted one using off-the-shelf tech, separate from W3C and MIT. Any bets how often I’ll post?)

[eta testing link to

3 Responses to “From Footpaths to Freeways”

  1. Sandro,

    How about summarizing it as “HTTP” based Data Access, Connectivity, and Management ?


    A federation of structured data sources held together by HTTP 🙂




  2. sandhawke Says:

    While it may the part that most interests you and me, Kingsley, I think the Semantic Web / Web 3.0 is about a lot more than that. We can’t just take our piece of the puzzle and say this is the next big thing; in predicting the future, we have to look at the bigger picture of what everyone else is doing, too. (see my Web 3.0 prediction).

  3. […] the event’s analogy format, turned sideways, I guess we could say RDF is to Web 3.0 as Ajax is to Web 2.0. Ajax was the […]

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