The Return of Web 3.0 - Cloud Computing, Browser Extensions or The Distributed Web? [Best of July '08 #5]

Though there were a few more interesting subjects this week I limit this week's highlights (July 28 - Aug 3 2008) to the trends/Web 3.0 department:

  • This week saw the return of Web 3.0 definitions on the table. Marc Benioff, CEO of salesforce.com, in a guest post at TechChrunchIT, proposed that Web 3.0 is about cloud computing and platforms as a service. As he writes:

    The new rallying cry of Web 3.0 is that anyone can innovate, anywhere. Code is written, collaborated on, debugged, tested, deployed, and run in the cloud. [...]
    For developers, Web 3.0 means that all they need to create their dream app is an idea, a browser, some Red Bull, and a few Hot Pockets.

    Naturally, as Marc mentions in passing, salesforce is a provider of platform as a service via their force.com offering. Nonetheless, I think that Mark has point in that infrastructure as a service, as provided by Amazon AWS, Google App Engine and others, is truly disruptive in that it makes it possible to launch an online business with very limited resources.
    Now, where does this new definition of Web 3.0 fit into my categorization of the Web 3.0 landscape? In part it belongs to the APIs and Web Services definition, or the Distributed Web as I proposed to call it, but it could well make up an own category among the "Other definitions".
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  • Another suggestion for the meaning of Web 3.0 was put forward by Mattt Thompson of the Yahoo Developer Network, as suitably recognized by Josh Catone. Mattt means that Web 3.0 will be characterized by browser extentions, like Google Gears and Yahoo BrowserPlus, that enhance the user experience of Web applications by providing features such as offline access. This view of Web 3.0 is focused more on the client side user experience of the Web, as opposed to the back-end infrastructure view as represented by Marc Benioff above. Not to say that the user experience is unimportant, but in my humble view, the changes that APIs, web services and cloud computing bring to the Web are more disruptive than some user interface enhancements.
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  • Chris Shipley of the Demo conference suggests that the Web 2.0 cycle has come to a close, and will be succeeded by the Distributed Web:

    This next phase is not about aggregating content or visitors to a single Web site; it's about disseminating information and applications to the users where ever they may be - another Web site, a mobile device, a consumer electronics gadget.

    In my Web 3.0 post, I proposed that the Distributed Web is characterized by APIs and web services, "signifying that a web site's content is consumed at multiple destinations through its API." Thus, while my definition is more focused on the underlying mechanisms of distribution, APIs and web services, Chris focus is more on the result of the distribution: the user's ability to consume web content and services wherever she might be.
    Richard MacManus, who first noticed Chris article, agrees to the significance of the notion of the Distributed Web, but disagrees that the "free" model of web services has ended, which also was one of Chris' assertions.
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