Web 3.0

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This entry is out of date, and will not be updated, June 2017


See also Data science portal | Long tail | Ontologies | Resource Description and Access (RDA) | Semantic web

"...web 3.0 will be more connected, open, and intelligent, with semantic Web technologies,
distributed databases, natural language processing, machine learning, machine reasoning,
and autonomous agents."
— Nova Spivack on web 3.0

Web 3.0 is a widely-misunderstood (and mis-used) term in the tech industry but it seems to refer to an illusory third generation of the web. The term probably originated in Silicon Valley, much like its older cousin Web 2.0, and as such is probably a kind of marketing term. As of 2014, web 3.0 seems to be in decline in usage, and is being replaced by other terms and concepts, especially the semantic web.

Web 3.0 was thought to be about an interconnected web of data where content would be interlinked through semantic tagging. Some experts suggested web 2.0 had matured and that the web had reached web 3.0. Given the debate about web 3.0, it was no wonder Wikipedia removed its entry in 2012. Web 3.0, as an extension of the current web, refers to a third period of development and may be understood as the third decade of its development, 2010-2020. Web 3.0 and the semantic web are often used interchangeably as share some of the same concepts and ideals. The semantic web is defined as a set of technologies and trends that are said to reach maturity during the third period or decade of the web's development. Some web watchers say web 2.0 is in an intermediate stage and others dismiss the use of versioning (and the use of web 1.0, web 2.0, etc). Web 3.0 has met with controversy, and versioning incites debate and annoyance among web experts. Nonetheless web 3.0 focuses on how best to organize documents so that they can be found. The semantic web is a concept that was promoted by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, a major figure in the creation of the World Wide Web. Web 3.0 refers to a set of tools, technologies and social processes. Technically the semantic web promises to be more organized so that search tools can co-locate information based on metadata (ie. data about data). Web 3.0 should be better able to address some of the problems associated with poor findability and organization on the current web.

Web 3.0 & managing information

Web 3.0 impact in medicine

Web 3.0 has been written about in medicine for a number of years (see PubMed search). WikiProteins, a website that used web 3.0 technologies to incorporate real time community annotation, targeted the biology community, but included the medical disciplines. In contrast to other wikis, WikiProteins imported data and content from the world's leading databases of biological information, including PubMed, UniProt, and the National Library of Medicine. Entries for every gene contained information such as functional domains, areas of expression, and publications. According to WikiProteins, the combination of databases yielded 2 million factual relationships to be mined, which produced over 5 billion relationship pairs. Some technology experts have suggested that Web 3.0 will need to consider appropriate international standards as it will, essentially, turn the Web into one large searchable and open database.

What are skeptics saying?

To answer that question, let’s begin with some of the many conflicting definitions of web 3.0. According to Wikipedia, "There is considerable debate as to what the term web 3.0 means, and what a suitable definition might be." Web futurist Nova Spivack says that web 3.0 is "...[a] more connected, open, and intelligent web, using semantic technologies, distributed databases, natural language processing, machine learning and machine reasoning...". A number of Internet experts say that we are already moving toward using the technologies that herald this new era, but some librarians say that these definitions do little to clarify what web 3.0 is [Personal communication, E. Barsky, G. Rowell, February 23, 2008]. Some bloggers argue that web versions do not (or should not) exist.


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