Over a decade ago, there was one buzzword that everyone and their uncle were throwing around. Web 2.0 was the next big thing, and we all slobbered and waited for it, whatever “it” was. It was called the “social web” or “interactive web”, and honestly, no one understood it, but everyone wanted to opine about it.
So what did change from 1.0? For starters, the web stopped being simple and static HTML pages, and to many coders I knew at the time thought PHP was Web 2.0. I’m not saying they were right, just saying it was a confused time. Social media is called Web 2.0 by almost everyone though, so that’s something we all agree on.
I’m not a big fan of what’s happened with Web 2.0, or rather I think Web 2.0 ruined the world. Don’t get me wrong, I love many of the things that came out of it – Wikipedia, YouTube, Facebook, etc. However, I also hate a lot of things that came out of it – Wikipedia, YouTube, Facebook, etc.
Let me explain.
As a way of getting basic information and spreading knowledge, there’s nothing better than Wikipedia. If you’re clueless about something, reading about it on Wikipedia is the way to go, right? However, the problems arise when students start using it as an authoritative reference on subjects more complicated than high-school science. That’s when Wikipedia starts getting things wrong. Problem is, no expert in the field checks Wikipedia, and this often results in either outdated information staying on pages, or just plain incorrect information because a contributor misunderstood a source. Then there are the trolls…
What about YouTube? It’s awesome for useful stuff, such as finding out how to open a gadget up to repair it, or even watching documentaries, or music videos for entertainment, etc. However, it’s also created an entire culture of attention-seeking babies who cannot live without an audience. The things people will do to get views is getting ridiculous. Do a Google search for the “DaddyoFive controversy” and you will see how some parents actually bullied their own child just to get views, and that’s not even remotely the worst thing people have done…
Talking about attention-seeking babies, that’s pretty much social media in a nutshell. Of course, it’s great to catch up with old friends and keep in touch, and even using it to find interesting links and videos. However, social networking basically gave 2 billion people a microphone and said, “Here, have a shout!”, which I don’t think was a good idea for society in general. The character flaws of people, coupled with all our weird beliefs, amplified by our massive egos results in the cacophony that is online life today.
My own role as a creator of content has suffered a lot in the past because of this. There’s a clear rush to be first which is in direct conflict (very often) with the need to be accurate. Personally, I find it better to steer clear of the mad rush, and prefer to be accurate, any day – as all geeks should.
So what will Web 3.0 bring? Soon the number of internet users will be larger than the unconnected. Currently, about 49.6 percent of the world’s 7.5 billion people use the internet – as per www.internetworldstats.com numbers. The Internet of Things will add on a huge number of connected devices, digital assistants (Siri, Cortana and the like) will start taking away a lot of the work (and thinking) we normally do on our own – AI research will assist that. AI will also play a large role in the semantic web – getting machines to understand data the way humans would. And of course, there’s VR, which aims to finally disconnect us from the “real world”.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of VR, especially for gaming and entertainment, but I can see it all coming together to make us dumber – slobbering idiots just swiping away our credit cards and remaining disconnected from reality. Given that reality sucks for most of the world, this is even understandable, sadly.
I’m worried though, because our track record thus far online hasn’t been all that great. It’s what makes me dread Web 3.0 and call it Web 3 point (hell) no. Maybe I’m wrong. I desperately hope I am. What do you think? Let me know in the comments section below.
This article was first published in the March 2017 issue of Digit magazine. To read Digit’s articles first, subscribe here or download the Digit app for Android and iOS. You could also buy Digit’s previous issues here.