Feb 092006
 

Ok, I know there seems to be enough difficulties defining what Web 2.0 actually means.
So of course attempting to define what web 3.0 will be is silly, or if you are enough of a visionary will make you stinking rich and renowned.
I guess I will fall into the silly category, but I do like to speculate (although I would prefer to become stinking rich and renowned) :)

I must say I would have completely failed perceiving what web 2.0 would be about a few years ago.
It took me ages to see what is so useful about XML and syndication, and I’m still neither a flickr or del.icio.us user. I recently started blogging and the only typical web 2.0 service I actually is using is audioscrobbler, or last.fm as they are called now.

So my speculations about the future is similar still to what I was foreseeing in the end of the 90′s. Maybe I’m looking to far into the future or looking in the wrong direction.
But anyway…here we go….the future of the web according to me:

AI
This is the big one I think.
I guess the first thing at least I think about when I hear AI is robots, or translated into a web environment, avatars.
And I do imagine we will see a few sales or support avatars and get just as annoyed with them as with the MS search puppy.
But in essence what those avatars will be is kind of like search engines that analyse how you interact with the website or respond to questions you ask them.
So the main area where AI will be useful is to behind the scenes modify what the user is presented with. The websites will turn intelligent and guide us to the information we need, or the products we don’t need but maybe can’t resist.

How would that work?
Take a shop, for example amazon.
The already have a lot of functionality that will customize the content and give you suggestions based on for example “people who bought this book also bought..”
Now take that a step further and have the website registering how long users look at different items to try to measure their interest and serve content based on that.
Maybe use different descriptions targeted at different types of customers based on their browsing and purchase habits. Just like a good salesman would adjust the pitch after making a judgement on what the needs and desires of the customer is.
For example a customer who just bought “flash for dummies” that looks at “actionscript bible” could like to know that it has many chapters really useful for complete beginners while the seasoned actionscript developer might be turned of by knowing that.
Ok, sneaky I admit, but just like a real sales person would do in most cases.
Of course it should be used to find the right product for you and not try to sell you anything you look at.

I’m sure for example google is exploring AI techniques for their search engine.
What do users that search for a certain phrase usually click on?
I don’t know if google does calculate on that yet, but it seems to me like a sensible way to have the users actually weed through the results for them.
Are European users maybe more likely to click on some results compared to Americans or Asians?
I know I been annoyed trying to find a shop in the EU when looking for some products.
If google as clever it would presume that since I’m based in EU, and other people from the EU that have been searching for a place to buy American Spirit tobacco went for a result that was a shop not based in the US, it should prioritize those results for me.

Interactive Multimedia
Web 2.0 started changing things a bit, but how many pages isn’t still basically an on-line brochure with the only difference that you click a link instead of flicking page by hand?
As bandwidth increases and the technologies like Flash matures I think internet will develop more into being a medium with it’s own style.
Not just put some text here with an image there, a link there and maybe if you feel extremly adventurous a video there.
The web has potential to be extremly immersing and efficient in getting messages across and promoting products or services by combining advanced interactivity with all kinds of media, and I think we will see more and more examples of how to do that.

VR
Yes, I know….it was hot in the beginning of the 90′s and just never took off.
Or did it? On-line multi player gaming is Virtual Reality even if you don’t have the full lawnmoverman-outfit and is immensely popular now.
Maybe for example virtual shopping malls where you can try an outfit on your avatar before buying it could be one possibility.
Environments combining gameplay, social networking and real life interaction like shopping maybe could prove successful, although I guess most people like to keep them separate.
So maybe VR will remain something that is used mostly for game play, but nevertheless it will be a big part of the on-line experience.

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