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BLOG: Web 4.0: A look through the kaleidoscope

Tom Jenkins | Nov. 25, 2011
The four Internet eras leading up to Web 4.0 and what to expect next.

Since the inception of the Web and the different software devices and programs that contribute to its success, businesses can only look ahead to see what comes after Web 3.0. The Internet continues to evolve and the nature of content is changing. Three eras of the Internet have brought us to the evolution of cloud computing:

Web 1.0 started in 1995 and lasted until 2005. This was the pre-network world of the desktop. Core enterprise application content from this era includes e-mail, documents, spreadsheets images, and videos. During the Web 1.0 phase, content delivery was informational and took the form of brochure-based websites.

Web 2.0 runs from 2005 until now and is the realisation of true networking in all infrastructure and applications. Examples of Web 2.0 content include blogs, wikis, podcasts, social networks, comments, rating and video-casting. Web 2.0 technologies are more dynamic, engaging and focused on a two-way interactive discussion and user-generated content. Most of them rely on connectivity as part of their functionality. As Web 2.0 applications proliferate, so does the content they generate, making content storage a serious issue for the enterprise.

Web 3.0 is in its infancy. New infrastructures and applications around mobile devices and the Semantic Web will drive this era. The Semantic Web encompasses technologies that understand the meaning of terms over and above just searching for terms. This understanding enables anticipation of user needs and the dynamic delivery of highly relevant and personalised information and services, taking content customisation and delivery to the next level. In just a few years, these technologies will dominate the cloud.

As bandwidth expands and mobile devices become more common, mobile rich media will continue to drive new content. Currently, millions of cell phone handsets are being replaced with smart phones and huge investments are being made to make network connections faster and more affordable. The result will be many different types of devices, applications, and content types. How will this impact the enterprise? IT departments will have to support all these devices, applications, and content types as they move from the consumer market into the business market.

We are on the brink of Web 3.0-but what's to follow?

What's next?
Web 4.0 may be considered to be the immersive generation in which 3D is combined with Web 3.0, or the Semantic Web, to create virtual worlds such as those currently found in gaming. A key factor in this world will be the digital rights tether which prevents the digital copying (perfect copying) of content. The digital tether is relevant for all forms of content and becomes a major issue for high value (high cost) information such as copyright on movies, images, and more.


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