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The discussion of Web 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0 has focused on the features of websites and the internet in general. The categorization provides at least one way to see the web progressing and it creates potentials for 3.0, which still lies almost entirely in the future. Many bash this as hype and techno-talk, but it is useful as a general scheme. Below is a very general review of the three webs.
Web 1.0 – This is the brick and mortar web. The New York Times discovers the Internet, so they stick the NY Times on a website. Amazon builds the super online bookstore. This is the world of email and directory based search. Not very interactive, not much user generated content.
Web 2.0 – This is the world of user based content: MySpace, Face Book, YouTube, Blogs, Tweets, Digg, Seeking Alpha, even the Huffington Post to a certain extent. The movement away from static, institutional content. Google rules the organization of sites.
Web 3.0 – This world is not here yet. There is a natural progression from Web 1.0 to 2.0, the users begin to create, and rate the content. But the idea of Web 3.0 is more technical. Without going into excessive details, the world of Web 3.0 might be one where the computer learns “to read”. When you query “hotel Madrid” the search engine will actually read the content, not just rate the site. This would make the exchange of information much faster and more fluid. This is the semantic web, post Google. Some put behavioral targeting here, but I believe BT is Web 2.0.
So what is Web 3.5? The progression of Web 1.0 to 2.0 and 3.0 is more of a technical progression than a political one. Web 3.5 is the political progression beyond 2.0.
The internet has revolutionized the way we communicate and how we organize (among many other things it has changed). But what hasn’t happened yet is a real revolution in online political organization on a national and trans-national level. Politicians have used the Internet to create databases of donors and volunteers, and less successfully, they have tried to use the Internet to compliment traditional media campaigns. But we have yet to see a truly grass roots political movement emerge online that captures the potential of the Internet, no borders, very inexpensive organization, very horizontal, very democratic and anonymous.
Traditional media has always been elitist and top heavy, and that is not necessarily a bad thing. We looked to traditional media as a specialized, informed source. The blogosphere offers something different; the two can and should exist together. The driving force behind Web 2.0 and what differentiates it from Web 1.0 is its democratic nature. The origin of the content stopped being primarily something from professional journalists, filmmakers, and authors and became populist. The vast majority of the user based content was put to the service of the big internet institutions. MySpace, YouTube, the blogs with ad sense, affiliate sites, all of it was to generate ad space and its derivatives. There were no significant philosophical movements to come out of Web 2.0.
This is the dividing line between Web 2.0 and 3.5. In web 3.5, not only will the content come from non-traditional sources, it will work toward a world organization that will trump the nationalist government and multinational corporations that are owned and at the service of the world financial elite. With a PC, internet connection and a few dollars, a worldwide political organization can be created. This is the liberation that the internet offers. The institutions and financiers saw only media space and earnings, but the creature is about to turn on them.
Web 3.5 will be owned and operated by the people of the world, and it will be the launching pad for a world government that will end war, hunger, poverty and the destruction of the world’s natural resources that have been till now at the service of the super elites. Never before in the history of man has there ever been an opportunity for the people of the world to discard national identities and unite behind a single world movement. The English language has become a de-facto language for the world, and the Internet has become the community. The only missing ingredient is a platform that could be built for under $100,000 to house the community and organize it. Who will step up and launch the first world community? There lies the danger and the opportunity. Conspiracy theorists, racists, demagogues will try, and the oligarchs of the world will certainly propose a straw man to serve their purposes. Beware of the Astroturf world movements that will soon be upon us.
Now is the time for a charismatic, modern, figure to emerge and carry the world to the next level. The only thing lacking is the seed money and thinkers. A global community of writers, scientists, business people, environmentalists, artists, marketers and political organizers need to come together to create an agenda to take the world beyond nationalism and capitalism. The movement must reject all forms of violence and corruption and embrace peace, equanimity and sustainability. It must be secular and completely post-nationalist. People of the world, we can do this, or they can do it for us. We now have the tools to overcome oppression, poverty and manipulation. We must not let this moment by squandered.