Reading O’Reilly and Battelle: “Web Squared” (2009)

Posted: January 18, 2011 in Web 2.0
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Reading O’Reilly and Battelle: “Web Squared” (2009) – with comments

As a web site designer-developer I want to be up-to-date on the development of the World Wide Web. People are using the buzz word “Web 2.0” – as something that will evolve into Web 3.0 soon. Well, as it turns out, it is already here. The article discussed here is available at

The article

This blog post build on a previous post on Web 2.0. The authors update the earlier article: the creation of value by users is called “crowdsourcing” nowadays. The structure of successful sites stimulates and directs the creation of value for the users, and for the owners. The structure is such that more people will create more value (bring your friends!). The authors call this “harnessing the activities of the users”.

Opportunities identified are not only to disagree with the consensus, but also to be able to identify interesting types of metadata. For instance, the metadata that Facebook generates is that of a social graph (?).

The data to be owned comes increasingly from sensors, mainly sensors in Smartphones. Examples are the: camera, microphone, GPS receiver, motion sensor, proximity sensor. Also in industry, logistics and retail (barcode at the cash register of the supermarket) a lot of data collecting is going on.

Ownership is not interesting only of sources of base data but (increasingly) of metadata. “Metadata” covers concepts as enriched data, and structure within and between (huge) data sets, among others. The structure in the data is brought about by human activities (e.g. tagging), but also by machine learning.

Services are increasingly about managing, interpreting and responding to large amounts of data, in real time. The real time component seems to be introduced by means for instant messaging.

Integration is still a major theme. Applications integrate multiple sources of information. Cooperation and not control is a major growth and development factor. (2011 update: Google drops HTML5 support for the H.264 video codec in its browser; Intellectual rights and access restrictions are considered harmful for the development of the web).

An interesting relation is the one between things (people) in the world and the data about them on the web (Information shadow on the web). Things tend to get increasingly uniquely identified on the web by the increasing amount of data on the web about it (MD: emergent identity).

The authors argue that Web 2.0 is not a version number. So, there will not be something like a Web 3.0. Rather, “Web 2.0” was their term to describe the restart after the burst of the Internet hype. Now they call it Web squared, since developments seem to increase in speed and magnitude swiftly.


This article, like its predecessor is a Must Read, especially for Internet entrepreneurs.

One may find (e.g. here) texts about semantic relations on the web, and that this phenomenon introduces Web 3.0. These semantic relations – primarily brought about by tagging, thus generating emergent semantics – seem an inherent development of existing activities on the Web.

In linguistics (at the time I read about it regularly) it was ok to distinguish between syntactical, semantic and pragmatic aspects. Pragmatism being about the effect a syntactical construct can bring about, what it can do (to you), or how you can use it to get something done. So I was wondering what would be the pragmatics of the Web. Would that then be Web 3.0, or 2WEB?

After pondering for a while on this question I concluded that “Apps” embody the pragmatism of the data available on the web. This has interesting implications: people who by Apps subject themselves to the pragmatics of the App makers. Software developers are the free citizens, since they can subject data to their pragmatics. We also see an explosive increase in the number of available Apps on the market, which will call for ways to search among them, and structure the results. Now we have move the next level up. Fascinating!


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