A graduate of Oxford University, Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web in 1989. He wrote the first web client and server in 1990. As his concept gained traction it began evolving into the Internet we know and love today. See the web’s evolution with this interactive map.
From its inception until 1999 the web was in the 1.0 form of communication. This is known as the “read-only” web as the role of the user was limited to the intake of information. Users could search and read a website’s information, but there were no opportunities for interaction or content contribution. The majority of shopping cart applications, which most eCommerce website owners use, fall under the category of Web 1.0. These digital shopping carts act in a similar manner to a store catalog or brochure. The reach granted by a website is magnified for anyone (anywhere in the world) to purchase your products.
The ability for users to interact with the web is the distinguishing factor between Web 1.0 and Web 2.0. The “Read-only” web entered the Read-Write-Publish era in 1999 with the introduction of LiveJournal (Launched in April 1999) and Blogger (Launched in August 1999). The addition of user input has revolutionized how people connect with one another. This has allowed for instant peer-to-peer communications, as well as allowing each user to become their own publisher, through websites such as Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, and more.
The full extent of the Internet’s connectivity has allowed for a rapidly expanding base of shared information. Social interaction merged with eCommerce in the form of product reviews. Direct communication between businesses and consumers has opened the doors of eCommerce to opportunities such as improved customer support, feedback, and user engagement with your brand.
Web 2.0 has been defined by social engagement and the revolutionary addition of user input. By allowing all people to share their 2 cents our society has become rich in information, however our ability to create information has far exceeded our ability to manage it. As social engagement came to define Web 2.0, semantic executions may come to define Web 3.0.
Semantics is defined as the branch of linguistics and logic concerned with meaning. There are a variety of subdivisions within the field of study, including formal semantics, which studies the logical aspects of meaning, such as sense, reference, implication, and logical form; as well as lexical semantics, which studies word meanings and word relations.
Here Tim Berners-Lee illustrates the potential of The Semantic Web. A network that does more than search for the individual words a user inputs. It may be able to find relationships between words in order to return all valuable information on the topic. One day this network of data may become intelligent enough to supply information the user wasn’t considering initially by finding new connections between each individual word, phrase, or subject. By extending Tim Berners-Lee’s “read-only” explanation, Web 3.0 would be a “read-write-execute” web.
Since this is difficult to envision in the abstract form, it’ll be broken down to two key concepts, semantic markup and web services.
Semantic markup refers to bridging the gap in communication that exists between human users and lines of code. Mr. Berners-Lee explains how “One of the largest organizational challenges of presenting information on the web was that web applications weren’t able to provide context to data, and, therefore, didn’t really understand what was relevant and what was not.” For example, if a program can pick up on enough context clues or metadata to distinguish between a Jaguar (car) and a jaguar (animal), more accurate and topical information could be provided.
A web service is a type of software designed to allow computer-to-computer interaction over the Internet. Business to business (B2B) web services already exist in Web 2.0, however they will become an even more prominent factor in defining the evolution into Web 3.0. By combining a semantic markup and web services, Web 3.0 may have the potential for applications that can communicate to each other directly. This may allow for wider reaching (yet more nuanced) searches through information than today’s interfaces.
This creates interconnected databases that can understand the information stored within other locations. Ideally, Web 3.0 will be able to search multiple databases at once and intuitively link results together for you based on the context of your inquiry. This is reliant on the integration of “Linked Data”, perhaps explained best by Tim Berners-Lee in his 2009 Ted Talk.
The semantic web toes the line of artificial intelligence. A.I. researchers have been conceptualizing a silicon brain that can process raw data from the physical world. Instead of trying to teach computers how to process the physical world around us, the semantic web is an attempt to re-render the physical world as data and metadata. As the semantic web is developed we may be forced to face the age-old question “Does the world make sense, or do we make sense of the world?”
The World Wide Web has evolved so rapidly over the past 26 years, that there is no telling what it will look like 26 years from today. Regardless of what we rename it, the Internet is here to stay, which means Genius eCommerce is as well. We are constantly updating our digital marketing strategies to reflect the latest advancements in relation to eCommerce and have no intention of slowing down.
- Dan Kogan
- July 7, 2016