This week I look at Web 2.0 and beyond. To do this I am going to use what a google search currently looks like and how it may change in the Web 3.0 world to answer the following question:
What is the relationship of Information Architecture to Web 2.0 and 3.0?
Before we delve further lets start with some definitions:
- Web 2.0: The current generation of internet technology/websites that facilitate many to many communication via collaboration, content sharing and web applications.
- Web 3.0: The next generation of internet technology, ‘The Semantic Web’. Content published in Web 3.0 is given added meaning which allows computers to interpret, understand and execute tasks, assisting in decision making
- Information Architecture: The art and science of organizing and labeling websites, intranets, online communities and software to support usability.
Information Architecture and Web 2.0
In Web 2.0 websites host a diverse range of content, users access content and the structure of IA is designed around this human interaction. We can think of the IA structure as a simple filing system where a user requests information on a website, the browser pulls the requested information from stored documents on a server and presents it for viewing.
We can also think of the IA of Web 2.0 being the ‘Read/Write’ web, users read information and then write in response. A Wikipedia page starts with a few sentences, other users ‘read’ then ‘write’ their own information to expand the entry. The entry becomes a living resource as other users then read/write and expand the content.
Web 2.0 has become the norm in how we interact, use and expect the internet to operate but is set to become archaic as we move towards the Web 3.0 world.
Information Architecture and Web 3.0
In Web 3.0 things get more… complicated. Whilst in Web 2.0 IA is built for human understanding, Web 3.0 IA is built for machines.
In Web 2.0 a page may access data from another page or a database to present information for a user (e.g. a sales report from the Manakau branch generated by a marketing executive in Wellington). In Web 3.0 the flow of information is completely transformed. Everything on the internet becomes a ‘thing’. Instead of pages linking between documents, computers read data attached to a page, a search term or a document and execute complex queries.
Putting It Together
Consider the below google search:
Image source: Google
In Web 2.0 google looks at a range of factors to generate results. Google considers the geographical location of the search, keywords within the query and web traffic of results to present what it believes is the best response. Note however only half of my question is answered, the where element.
In Web 3.0 the IA is such that google can pull on further sources including real time social content, browsing history and the metadata attached to all of this content to present results that don’t just answer the where but also the when. Web 3.0 is a shift from the ‘Read/Write’ web to a ‘Portable Personal Web’.
Web 3.0 achieves this as AJAX evolves into ‘Resource Description Framework (RDF)’. RDF is a form of data model which uses universal identifiers to identify what resources are and to describe the relationship they have with one another. Instead of guessing what a user is going to type in a search field, RDF looks at websites tagged with Paris, understands the relationship between Paris and my “where should I stay” query then pools data from relevant sources. In Web 3.0 google could consult my calendar to see when I have time off and automatically pull requests from hotel sites with prices for that period, all with a simple text query.
The range of information available at our fingertips today in the Web 2.0 environment is astonishing but not always relevant. Web 2.0 architecture has its drawbacks as machines struggle to communicate together and this is the primary weakness Web 3.0 seeks to address.
If Web 3.0 can successfully facilitate machine communication we are headed for a richness in content, search and web experience which is potentially beyond our current ability to grasp as technology users in 2017.
This was a complex topic to get my head around and I pulled on a large number of pages and resources. Ones of particular assistance this week:
UX Booth: Information Architecture
Flat World Business
Today in Social Media
Information Archetecture 3.0
Evolution of the World Wide Web – International Journal of Web & Semantic Technology
Beyond Web 2.0