The internet may have made technology trendy, but it looks like tech is becoming pretentious. Web 2.0 – the term used to describe the age of "social networking" sites like Facebook – is common parlance, but there's now something much more fashionable on the horizon. And they're calling it… 'Web 3.0'.
This is, as one commentator has put it, "annoying". And it's especially annoying when the term is injected with gigabytes of hype and bandied around thoughtlessly by people like me. The trouble with Web 3.0 is that no-one really knows what it is. While most agree that it represents the next phase in internet evolution, there are many theories as to what exact form this will take.
Tim Berners-Lee – the father (and now, I suppose, grandfather) of the internet – believes the next generation of online will be a "semantic web", where information is woven together seamlessly, and where every bit of data will be able to "talk" to everything else. Some say that this is a step towards artificial intelligence on the web.
Berners-Lee gives the example of an online bank statement and a personal calendar. He said under the "semantic web", the internet will automatically make links between the two. So, if you're spending more money, the internet may link this to the fact that you're posting pictures of a beach holiday online. Whether you access this information, and how you use it, will be up to you.
Another hypothesis is that Web 3.0 will happen in a three-dimensional space, such as the "virtual world" of Second Life. Other predictions are more mundane: some reckon Web 3.0 will just be very, very fast. It's easy to see why some are cynical of the terminology surrounding the "new age" of the internet. But consider this: many people who originally thought of Facebook as "gimmicky" are now its enthusiastic members.
Businesses looking to exploit the Web 3.0 revolution should investigate Twine.com. This invite-only site – which I signed up to earlier this month – is certainly unglamorous. It's like Facebook without all of your friends.
However, the tool promises a more "intelligent" way of understanding your interests. I'll give you an update of my Twine experience in next week – if, of course, I'm deemed "cool" enough to join.