New Brief from Social Technologies Discusses Technology Discontinuity and Web 3.0

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The coming of Web 3.0 would signal a major change toward overcoming information overload, according to Social Technologies.

By helping users to passively receive the information they need instead of actively filtering through irrelevant content, Web 3.0 will change the way people use the Internet. Social Technologies' analyst Simeon Spearman explains the changes in a new brief that is part of the company's series on discontinuities (those sudden, sharp breaks that can strike consumers, business sectors, nations, or the world with disruptive force).

"The continuously evolving World Wide Web has progressed through two major phases," says Spearman.

  • The first, typically referred to as the "dot com" era, was characterized by the rapid adoption of the Internet among consumers and the subsequent rise and fall of various Silicon Valley startups.
  • The current era, Web 2.0, has seen the rise of user-generated content and social networking services driven by more dynamic webpage design, he adds.
  • The next era, Web 3.0, will be characterized by semantic Web services; reliance on Web-based applications; location-based services; and ambient intelligence devices.

"Amidst the large amounts of information currently being added to the Web, software will be more capable of providing personalized, contextual information, as well as goods and services, to users through Web 3.0," Spearman adds. "The next era of the Web will also be increasingly reliant upon advanced mobile devices that are regarded less as phones and more as computers."

Key technology attributes

Spearman believes that Web 3.0 will be characterized and enabled by the following technologies:

  • Semantic Web. This is the term used to describe Web data that is "tagged" with information about website content that makes it easier for computers to search for the data users are looking for. "Tagged data would allow software to recognize relationships among information and filter out undesired search results, causing the Web to function more like a database," he says. "The semantic Web reduces the amount of time spent looking for desired information on the Web."
  • Cloud computing. New Internet technologies are allowing Web developers to add more features to websites, making them more similar to desktop applications than traditional websites. "Individuals and businesses are increasingly capable of storing and processing all of their information through the Web, allowing for greater mobility, portability, and scalability of digital content through cloud computing services," he suggests.
  • Location-based services. Adoption of GPS and other locative technologies in automobiles and mobile devices is providing consumers with more information and services from their surroundings. "Users are growing increasingly capable of receiving information on the closest points of interest, such as restaurants or gas stations," Spearman adds.

Business implications

Realization of Web 3.0 and its associated technologies will create challenges and opportunities, and Spearman suggests the following adjustments:

  • Organizing data for consumers using semantics technologies will make products easier to find and personally relevant. Online advertising and search-engine optimization will need to change in order for businesses to gain visibility early on alongside these technologies. Businesses will also benefit from organizing internal documents along these semantic standards, as the benefits of the semantic Web will assist in structuring enterprise-side data as well.
  • Businesses seeking to compete in local markets will need to be capable of delivering goods and services that cater to specific locales, instead of merely providing large-scale services over greater geographic regions. GPS-enabled handsets and short-range communication provide new opportunities for marketing as consumers gain greater access to local information. Floundering franchises could gain business through having better deals that drive business out of slumps by offering sales and other promotions that are extremely competitive in a geographic context.
  • Businesses rolling out goods and services based on Web 3.0 technologies will need to solve issues of security and privacy early on in the adoption phase in order to build consumer trust in these services. Also, private data must be used to generate additional true value--whether through personalized shopping experiences, or services that use organized Web and geographic data to provide services unavailable via existing technologies.

Learn more

To talk to Simeon Spearman about this discontinuity and its relevance to major business sectors, contact Hope Gibbs, Social Technologies' leader of corporate communications: hope.gibbs @

About ) The Discontinuities Series

Social Technologies recently released a series of briefs called Discontinuities, which are those sudden, sharp breaks that can strike consumers, business sectors, nations, or the world with disruptive force. Exactly when, where, or how such events will occur is inherently hard to foresee. This brief explores one potential discontinuity in the technology sector. Look for more of our Discontinuities press releases in the food, health, and mobility industries on our website:

Simeon Spearman ) Futurist

Simeon Spearman is a futurist and contributing writer for S)T's Technology Foresight and Global Lifestyles multiclient projects. He also contributes to custom client projects, and tracks emerging trends, values, and segments for the Futures Observatory, Social Technologies' trend-feed program. Simeon's professional interests include digital lifestyles, contemporary Japanese culture, and development in emerging markets. He is currently pursuing his MS in studies of the future at the University of Houston. He holds a BS in international affairs and modern languages from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He spent a year abroad in 2004-2005 as an exchange student at Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan.

About ) Social Technologies

Social Technologies is a global research and consulting firm specializing in the integration of foresight, strategy, and innovation. With offices in Washington DC, London, and Shanghai, Social Technologies serves the world's leading companies, government agencies, and nonprofits. For information visit, our blog:, and our newsletter:


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