I’m assuming that you already know how the web has evolved over the past many, many years. And if you are an 80’s kid then I guess you can perfectly recollect those HTML (actually static) websites in the 90s and early 2000s.
Or, you wanna see it? All right. Here you go:
Thanks Wayback Machine.
Post the dot-com bubble there was a sudden surge in websites that was powered by user-generated content and today we broadly call it Web 2.0 (which includes but is not limited to: blogs, wiki, groups, forums, social networks, etc.). And it’s something that’s still happening.
Just in case, here’s a truncated definition of Web 2.0 by Wikipedia:
Web 2.0 describes World Wide Web sites that emphasize user-generated content, usability, and interoperability. A Web 2.0 site may allow users to interact and collaborate with each other in a social media dialogue as creators of user-generated content in a virtual community, in contrast to Websites where people are limited to the passive viewing of content. Examples of Web 2.0 include social networking sites, blogs, wikis, folksonomies, video sharing sites, hosted services, Web applications, and mashups.
In simple English, we users were not allowed to engage with most websites back in 90s (except of course on the Hotmails and Yahoos of the world). But today, almost every website offer users a way to engage.
For instance, a blog allows users to comment/contribute, social networks are all about engagements and engagements only, and dynamic websites (powered by PHP, .NET, etc.) are able to tailor content based on the interest of audience or it can be personalized to some extent.
What I have noticed is the fact that the Web (1.0 or 2.0) more or less remains the same post 2000 as it’s still all about static or dynamic web pages.
The only significant difference is that websites are now offering plenty of extra features and functions so that it doesn’t appear like a static web page. Oh yeah, I’m pretty sure that you won’t agree with me here.
Anyway, my argument is I don’t see anything remarkable in any of the so-called web 2.0 properties except for the fact that it’s got better UI and UX, powerful features, and they all have nicely leveraged different computer programming languages. So perhaps that’s how web has evolved from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0.
Again, coming back…
For me the problem have always been that… the websites more or less appear the same for all users. Of course, there are individual websites that are radically different from the rest. But still every single website is missing something (including Googles and Facebooks of the world).
And what do you think is missing? It’s personalization. I believe personalized web could be the future of the web. Or, at least it could be a component of Web 3.0, or Web 4.0 or Web whatever.
And no, it’s not about the personalized home pages that you and me are familiar with on Yahoo.com, MSN.com, etc. Personalized home pages are enabled on almost all the major portals on the web like Yahoo, Google, MSN, Amazon, eBay, etc.
Personalized Web: Future of the Web
I always wonder what the future of the web would be. Quite unpredictable, right? It definitely won’t be what you and me are thinking it will be. It will be something else. Why I’m so sure? Because, if it’s something that’s so predictable or foreseeable then it could just be the beginning and not the end.
But wait, there’s already a thing called “Web 3.0” and I have already read a dozen of articles surrounding that topic. However, I didn’t see anything in it that has something to do with personalization or customization.
For instance, here’s an excerpt from Web 2.0 vs. Web 3.0.
I started thinking about “personalized web” a few years back. I was clueless if it’s possible at all or if it’s going to matter or whether users would want to see such a thing. Besides, I was also unsure whether it’s possible or not (like the way I want it to be).
Because now I can see that it’s totally possible and makes a lot of sense to end users.
Do I have an example? Oh yeah, I have got one (for now).
I have visited several dozens of finance websites over the past many, many years but I have never come across a finance portal that offers as much customization as Investing.com does (and it’s free!).
No, they didn’t pay me to write this blog post. :P
Allow me to explain.
I’m not sure about individiual finance websites but I repeat none of the ‘popular’ finance websites (Yahoo Finance, Google Finance, MSN Finance, MarketWatch, etc.) that you and me are familier with offers as much customization as Investing.com does.
You don’t believe me?
Okay, let’s take a quick glance at the technical chart of Dow Jones provided by Yahoo Finance, Google Finance, MSN, MarketWatch and finally Investing.com.
As you can see, Investing.com offers a ton of customization options and tools and that’s what makes it stand out from the crowd. And the best thing? It’s all free.
And that’s exactly what reinforced the “Web 3.0” that’s in my mind.
Now imagine websites like Yahoo, MSN, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. enables users to customize the website the way they want to.
And no, I’m not talking about open-source. And I’m not talking about simple feature ON/OFF. And I’m not talking about predefined set of layouts or views or controls or anything.
So what the hell do I mean? I don’t know.
But, I can explain it as few postulates (though they aren’t perfect, yet):
- You visited Facebook.com and you hate your timeline. What do you do? You remove the timeline widget. Now you don’t have a timeline but you’re still friends with your friends and can visit their timeline manually and do whatever you want.
- You visited YouTube.com and you hate video suggestions or prefer a clean interface that has nothing but only the video that you want to play. What do you do? You remove everything on the screen but the video.
- You visited Twitter.com and you hate its Trending Topics, Follow Suggestions, etc. What do you do? You remove those widgets.
- You got a Twitter.com profile but you don’t like its date formats or widget arrangements. What do you do? You customize all those things so that it appears like the way you want it to.
- You visited Yahoo Finance and you don’t like its top navigation bar and expert columns and videos. What do you do? You remove it.
In other words, what if you could customize your favorite websites in a way that you never imagined. And I’m pretty sure that it’s not going to be easy because websites are going to lose a chunk of revenues that way.
So maybe ad-free freemium/premium websites (like free, freemium, and premium mobile apps) could be the future of the web too. Once again, I don’t know.
And I don’t even know if it’s technically possible or whether it can be done. Website API? HTML6? HTML7? I don’t know.
I’m not the only one (obviously!) to point out possible Web 3.0 components. There are a lot of interesting articles and blog posts around it.
What’s so interesting about Web 3.0 is the fact that there’s NO Wikipedia page for “Web 3.0” and it’s redirecting to Semantic Web.
The Semantic Web provides a common framework that allows data to be shared and reused across application, enterprise, and community boundaries.
And Tim Berners-Lee (the inventor of WWW) has described the semantic web as a component of “Web 3.0”.
So as you can see, there’s already a lot of buzz going around Web 3.0 and I just wanted to blog my perspective. Or at least these are the things that I want to see on future websites.
I could be wrong. But I could be right too.
So, what do you think about Web 3.0? :)