Web 2.0 Arrives and Shadows of Web 3.0 Appear on the Horizon

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Web 2.0 Arrives and Shadows of Web 3.0 Appear on the Horizon

These days, nearly anyone with a business plan and a desire for quick venture capital is touting it as a Web 2.0 business model. Some are even bold enough to claim that they are bypassing Web 2.0 and building Web 3.0 businesses. So let’s clear away the hype and explore what these terms Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 really mean, and what they will mean to your business.

The first generation of the Internet, Web 1.0, was built around content. Web 1.0 provided information, but users couldn’t interact with the Web pages and documents they found online. That void is now being addressed by the second generation of the Internet, known as Web 2.0.

The defining characteristic of Web 2.0 is interactivity. Users interact with each other and create profiles of themselves at social networking Web sites such as MySpace; they express their opinions through blogs; they share videos at YouTube; and they collaborate on creating encyclopedia entries on Wikipedia. Web 2.0 sites also interact with each other and morph into new tools and applications, known as “mash-ups,” which is driving the trend, “Mash It Up and Roll It Out,” that we’ll discuss shortly.

The business context of Web 2.0 differs from that of Web 1.0 in at least three important ways:

  • The experience and attitudes of the entrepreneurs
  • The target market
  • The purpose of the technology itself

The first difference between the two generations of the Internet is in the attitudes and experience levels of the entrepreneurs. As Joseph B. Lassiter III, Professor of Management Practice at Harvard Business School, told Sloan Management Review, “For me, the biggest single difference between Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 is that you tend to get 46-year-old CEOs in Web 2.0 companies, whereas in Web 1.0 companies you got two 23-year-old co-CEOs. ... People are older, wiser, and, to some extent, a little bit more jaded.”1

The target market is also different. Web 1.0 was created by a small group of academic researchers like Tim Berners-Lee and Mark Andreeson in labs and universities. Web 2.0 is being created for, and by, millions of users who go online from basements and billion-dollar corporations.

Finally, the ultimate objective of the technology itself is being transformed. As reported in Technology Review, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos recently described this shift in the Internet’s direction in a speech at the Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco. As Bezos said, “Web 1.0 was making the Internet better for people. Web 2.0 is making the Internet better for computers...

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