Let’s start with a quote from one of the most influential people in the industry.

‘The big innovation happens at the top, the data base and operating system become less and less visible, you don’t build to the database as you did before and you don’t care about the Operating System as much as you did before’

Shai Agassi on SAP using SOA.
Strong words, but very much in line with the seven principles of Web 2.0 laid down at the October 2005 event that pretty much got Web 2.0 established as more than just a name. However the sharp eyed will notice that one of the principles is to switch from the Operating System to ‘data as the new Intel inside’ which seems to be contradictory to Shai’s comment, or is it? This introduces the topic of Web 3.0, which is either the answer to this question, or an answer looking for a question.

Look up Web 3.0 on Wikipedia and you get sent straight to the entry for the Semantic Web and that’s certainly not new, in fact it predates Web 2.0. At this point I can raise my interests in the opening quote and my concerns about Web 3.0.
Firstly I totally agree with, and support Shai’s statement, maybe it might have been clearer to add the term ‘traditional application data’, or as I think of it the data that results from an application transaction. That’s not to say that this data is no longer of use, most certainly not the case, we need this data and the traditional applications. We are talking about a different role for the technology to support, and to drive a different area of business value.
This takes us back to Web 2.0, and its role in support these new business capabilities, by delivering people-centric ‘interactions’, as opposed to these traditional application, or computer, centric ‘transactions’. But it can’t only be people; at some stage there must be a need to include in these interactions the computer, and that’s when Web 3.0 shows up as a meaningful requirement. The value of designing the approach to this requirement I absolutely find interesting, and potentially of great value, but is it the same as the long standing development of a ‘Semantic Web’?
Well in principle yes, but I fear we may find ourselves returning to old heavy duty ways, and repeating old views that have yet to serve us well. I hope we will approach this more in the manner of the lessons learnt in establishing Web 2.0 around a set of principles for common understanding, and then see some new approaches. I am not saying that all the work done on Semantic Web is bad, in fact I particularly like the approach and the usability that the Jena open source project has built.
So with this in mind I look forward with great interest to the forthcoming Open Group meeting in Paris, when this body made up of both industry and users, working towards practical business solutions through standards will be holding an inaugural session on Web 3.0. Should be interesting to see what emerges!