Before I delve into that, here is one of the briefest explanations of web development I can come up with:
Web1.0 – Era of search and content. It was a time when data got placed onto the internet and people could then search that data in a way that was much quicker and easier that rattling through printed publications etc.
Web2.0 – The era of networks and collaboration. This is when the web began to facilitate personalisation of the web – personal to me, allowing me to share what I want with who I want to share it with.
So where do we go from here? According to experts that vision, that future, is the Semantic web or the data web.
The problem is that people have different definitions for what that means. Some believe it to be a web where search becomes easier as computers begin to understand the context of pages rather than merely content. Other believe it to be a web where data is freed up to manipulate it, see its relationship with other data. Relationships that previously were impossible due to how it was stored and tagged.
Where does this leave us? Nowhere and everywhere. I think it will be both and what it really is is a contextual web. A web where information is more than just one individual piece – where everything around it (be that causal, affected or miscellaneous) is also accessible. A web that provides us with a lot more value than we currently get. A web that proactively feeds us additional, related information rather than us need to seek it, understand it and relate it.
But we need to develop a universal understanding of what it is because if you don’t know where you’re heading, how do you know when you get there?