The new social web is an evolution from the Web 2.0 revolution, so shouldn’t we give it a new name?
The web, once just a repository for data, has transformed over the years to become a tool for connecting people. The tools that are the basic components to our everyday existence – email, IM, photo-sharing, blogging, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, etc. – have not succeeded solely because they’re easy to use. They’ve succeeded because they tap into our basic human need for establishing connections with other people. They are the tools of today’s social web.
Meanwhile, we’re waiting for the next evolution of web, something dubbed by pundits as “Web 3.0,” but it seems like that’s still far off in the distant future. Where Web 3.0 may bring us artificial intelligence and semantic search engines, it’s clear we’re not there yet. Instead, we’re firmly ensconced in the social web of Web 2.0.
Except maybe it’s time we upgrade it to Web 2.5.
The original Web 2.0 was a revolution that brought about rich user experiences, social networking, user participation, and introduced new types of communities and services, like wikis, blogs, and social networks. However, today, we’re growing these basic principles and new trends are started to emerge. Now, we want new tools to help us with our online Web 2.0 world. We want aggregation, data portability, and filtering systems.
These concepts are helping to define the next generation of the web, and while it looks nothing like the Web 3.0 that we once dreamed of, it is certainly an evolution from what Web 2.0 once was. The companies who are introducing these types of tools are already becoming wildly successful.
There’s a reason why the early adopters can’t stop talking about FriendFeed and its lifestreaming service. Where before all of our activities and those of our friends took place in separate areas throughout the web – social as they may be, there was no one tool that pulled them all together like FriendFeed does. This “lifestream” aggregates all your activities and then allows for more socializing to take place around those activities, something that is even turning the once king of the social web, Twitter, into an inbox of sorts for receiving messages about your shared content.
Across the social networks, another type of new Web 2.5 activity is also starting to take place – data portability. The concept is that your friends are your friends no matter what service you’re on, so there should be an easier way to add them than having to scour through your address book every time you sign up somewhere. The OpenSocial movement developed by Google is a set of common APIs built to provide a means of transporting your friend graph from social network to social network. Unfortunately, at this stage in the game, all the major networks are battling to become the winner here, each one wanting to be the default method you use to move your friends around the social web, so we have MySpace’s Data Availability vs. Facebook Connect vs. the OpenSocial-powered Google Friend Connect, all battling it out with no clear winner yet.
Finally, in Web 2.5, there’s the need more more filtering to come into play. Since we’ve now managed to aggregate our content, we’re also starting to become deluded by the flood. Systems that help the best or the most popular content rise up to the top are in demand. These filters can be something as simple as FriendFeed’s “best of” feature or a full-on filtering system, like AideRSS’s feed reader filter. There are sure to be more tools to emerge even later.
In all, these aggregation, data portability, and filtering systems are mapping out the next version of our web, a greatly improved version of Web 2.0 that makes the socializing aspect more useful, while also moving it to become the core of interactivity on the web. Being social is what today’s web is all about, but in Web 2.5, new tools make the social web a true layer to everything we do, not just an isolated activity.