The Web as we know it has been in constant evolution. Many of us may be totally oblivious to this fact, but I can remember a day before there was high-speed Internet, social networks, cloud computing, mobile devices, and iPads. A day when you had to install AOL discs to get a limited amount of hours of “Dial-Up Internet” access. A day when you couldn’t use Dial-Up Internet and talk on your home phone at the same time. A day when the Internet was a bunch of static HTML websites of corporate companies.
In just the last 16 years, we’ve seen the Internet go from being an irrelevant feature on our computers to being the #1 thing we use everyday. In just 16 years, we’ve seen the Internet disrupt the music industry, the newspaper industry, the television industry, and almost every other industry in-between. So just for a little fun, I thought I’d take you on a journey through the Past, Present, and Future of the Internet as we know it.
The Internet as we know it is only about 16 years old, and it is continuing to evolve. We’ve witnessed Web 1.0, which lasted during most of the early/infant years of the Internet. This era was known as the “Readable” Phase which focused on static and flat data such as basic HTML web pages and information. We’ve also witnessed Web 2.0, which came into being after the Internet bubble-burst in 2000. This has lasted during most of the teenage years of the Internet. This era was and is currently known as the “Writable” Phase which focuses on interactive data such as blogging, social networking, online buying, and tweeting.
As Web 2.0, the Internet continues to become more and more social. Millions of people purchase personal computers and mobile devices every year, and convert to being habitual users of the World Wide Web for online social interaction, online buying, learning, blogging, tweeting, searching and more. Bloggers, social network sites such as Facebook and Twitter, and e-commerce sites such as Amazon and Zappos have become the creators and curators of Web 2.0 culture. They helped to create a new type of web… the Social Web. We all watched as Internet companies grew from thousands of users to hundreds of millions of users. Today, these companies receive millions of hits to their sites daily.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR BUSINESS?
What these companies have gathered over the past decade is an enormous amount of data from online users. This is the secret sauce. This data – which is both broadly general and dynamically specific – ranges from basic customer purchases and interactions to personal information from users such as personal interests, status updates and tweets. HOW companies use this data has become the newest and greatest phenomena in Internet business. I believe all of this online data that has been gathered will redefine how business is done in the coming years.
Thanks to all of the online data that is available, companies now know more about customers than ever before. For example, Facebook is leveraging its data from its 600 million users to help companies advertise effectively to specified target audiences inside of Facebook. Amazon is leveraging its data to create a more personalized shopping experience for every customer. Google is leveraging its data to create algorithms that provide personalized search recommendations to its users.
The future of the Internet is Web 3.0.
What is Web 3.0? Web 3.0 – also called the Semantic Web – is a term coined by Tim Berners-Lee, the man who invented the first World Wide Web. “The Semantic Web is a place where machines can read web pages much as humans read them. It’s a place where search engines and software agents can better troll the Internet and find what users are looking for. It’s a set of standards that turns the Web into one big database” (pcmag.com – ‘Web 3.0’). With the amount of data available, the Web will become more intelligent. Users will have a more personalized experience. And terms like data mining and data science will become more important to companies and how they connect with customers.
The point of all of this is… The web is changing… fast. And how we engage it as business leaders, entrepreneurs, innovators, and creatives will define what it will be and how we use it. We are moving toward a more intelligent Web. One that is more social, interactive, and customer service oriented.