Web 3.0: Is It About Personalization?

On the UK’s Guardian newspaper site today, writer Jemina Kiss suggested that Web 3.0 will be about recommendation. “If web 2.0 could be summarized as interaction, web 3.0 must be about recommendation and personalization,” she wrote. Using Last.fm and Facebook’s Beacon as an example, Kiss painted a picture of a web where personalized recommendation services can feed us information on new music, new products, and where to eat. It’s a marketers dream and it’s really not far off from the definitions we’ve come up with in the past here on ReadWriteWeb.

We’ve written about web 3.0 and attempted to define it many, many times here over the past year. One of the common themes between almost all of the posts is that Web 3.0 and the vision of the Semantic Web are joined at the hip.

Last April, we held a contest asking readers for their web 3.0 definitions. Our favorite came from Robert O’Brien, who defined Web 3.0 as a “decentralized asynchronous me.”

“Web 1.0: Centralized Them. Web 2.0: Distributed Us. Web 3.0: Decentralized Me,” he wrote. “[Web 3.0 is] about me when I don’t want to participate in the world. It’s about me when I want to have more control of my environment particularly who I let in. When my attention is stretched who/what do I pay attention to and who do I let pay attention to me. It is more effective communication for me!”

What O’Brien was getting at is basically what Kiss was getting at: personalization and recommendation. And that’s the promise of the Semantic Web. The easiest way to sell the Semantic Web vision to consumers is to talk about how it can make their lives easier. When machines understand things in human terms, and can apply that knowledge to your attention data, we’ll have a web that knows what we want and when we want it.

ReadWriteWeb contributor Sramana Mitra put it another way on this blog last February, when she said that web 3.0 will be about adding context to personalization. “Personalization has remained limited to some unsatisfactory efforts by the MyYahoo team, their primary disadvantage being the lack of a starting Context,” she wrote. “In Web 3.0, I predict, we are going to start seeing roll-ups. We will see a trunk that emerges from the Context, be it film (Netflix), music (iTunes), cooking / food, working women, single parents, … and assembles the Web 3.0 formula that addresses the whole set of needs of a consumer in that Context.” Or in other words, web 3.0 will be about feeding you the information that you want, when you want it (in the proper context).

Of course, the versioning of the Internet is kind of silly, and probably shouldn’t keep going, but it is a fun way to look to the future and predict what we might be coming our way. What do you think of Kiss’s idea about web 3.0 being about recommendation and personalization?

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