First let me call ‘bullshit’ to those that say Web 2.0 is ‘dead’. It is not, nor will be, much like Web 1.0 will always have a place. Having gotten that out, let me share where the web has been, and where I think it’s heading.
Web 1.0 = old model, new medium. Catalogues and retail stores, online. Libraries, online. Banks, online. Communities bulletin boards, online. Stuff you are familiar with, but online.
Web 2.0 = people-power: leveraged. I think it’s no coincidence that Web 2.0 & bizarre site names are married at the hip. Names like Twitter, Flickr, Joost, Wiki, Wesabe, and Pownce beg you to ask “what the hell is that?”. It’s a question they need you to ask, because they are cutting new cloth, and aren’t easily described by direct comparison to what you know. As it turns out, when you combine simple ideas with the contributions of thousands of people, you can leverage all that information in terrific new ways. Web 2.0 might best be summed up as: “For the one, utility. From the many, power.” We, the makers of the Internet, have not come close to exhausting what this makes possible. Long live Web 2.0!
Web 3.0 = prescriptive lifestyles. The Web 2.0 folk are learning a new trick, one that the social gaming folk are applying aggressively (and successfully): Goals, rewards, and other game mechanics motivate sustained action and real learning from players & users. Prepare yourself to see game-like elements appear like wild-fire across the web in the coming year (if you haven’t already). Examples include goal based systems: guided profile completion, guided and staged interactive tutorials. Achievements: social rewards, system rewards, points & merits. Competitive rankings: global leader-boards, social leader-boards, etc.
I expect websites, old & new, to be designed & tweaked under this lens of what drives interaction. Furthermore, I think we’ll see numerous new websites that prescribe very specific goals (as opposed to a broad menu). Consider a website like Gyminee that let’s you select your personal fitness goals, track your friends, compete with others, and leverage the community’s knowledge. Very cool, very useful very Web 2.0. Under a slightly more Web 3.0 lens, I’d expect Gyminee to suggest a specific fitness program after signup, and immediately start measuring me on it. Eliminate the paradox of choice from the initial experience, give me something to do, and only after I’ve accomplished some initial goals, should the experience allow me to choose the next. This may seem counter-intuitive, but you need only look at highly linear video games to understand that choice isn’t a requirement for fun/engagement. Even ‘open’ video games start with an on-rails tutorial/introductory mode.
I expect this trend to go deep, building off of what we’ve learned with Web 2.0. Under more interesting names, we’ll see sites like “HowToBeAGentlemanDaily.com”, “BuildFinancialSuccessIn10Years.com”, “BecomeAFantasticSnowboarder.com”, etc. These sites will combine prescriptive lifestyles & goals, continually refined by community knowledge, and supported by selling you the necessary accoutrements, (be they physical or virtual). These won’t be gimmick sites, they will be lifestyle sites.
I expect this trend and the new verbiage that it will coin to cross over more and more into off-line life. “You’re a level 3 Gentleman? Gratz!”
So do I believe Web 3.0 will predominately have anything to do with portability, and interoperability? No. Semantic awareness? No. I believe the mega-trend will be the video-game-imization of smart lifestyles, or more generally, the science of engagement applied to smarter living.