Digital Evolution

Past, Present and future outlook of digital technology

“Do you know  the answer to this question? What is web 2.0 technology?”
A random question asked at grade 6 students in the US a few years ago.

The interesting about this video is that these so called ‘digital natives’ have no clue what web 2.0 technology us all about. Although they use this (web 2.0) technology all the time. Society has evolved from having and using this (web) technology, to becoming this technology.

“We shape our tools. And later our tools shape us” – Father John M. Culkin (& Marshal Mcluhan) – 1967


It only took 50 years for this digital technology to become a commodity, all ways around, all ways present and indispensable for humans.  Let’s see how this got to far, where we came from, and where this might be going.

From a historic point of view 1990/1991 is the official birth of the (commercial) Internet, which was available to the general public. From this date on you see al lot of technical and infrastructural evolution. The graphical site evolution of the internet has nice graphics on this evolution.

Phase 0 – Developing the internet (Web 0.0)

Phase 1 – The World Wide Web (Web 1.0)

Experts call the Internet before 1999 “Read-Only” web. The average internet user’s role was limited to reading the information which was presented to him. The best examples of this 1.0 web era are millions of static websites which mushroomed during the dot-com boom (which eventually has led to the dotcom bubble). There was no active communication or information flow from consumer (of the information) to producer (of the information). But the information age was born!

According to Tim Berners-Lee the first implementation of the web, representing the Web 1.0, could be considered as the “read-only web.” In other words, the early web allowed users to search for information and read it. There was very little in the way of user interaction or content contribution. […]

The first shopping cart applications, which most e-commerce website owners use in some shape or form, basically fall under the category of Web 1.0. The overall goal was to present products to potential customers, much as a catalog or a brochure does — only through a website retailers could also provide a method for anyone (anywhere in the world) to purchase (their) products. […]

Phase 2 – The Social & Mobile Web (Web 2.0 – Web 4.0)

Web 2.0 – Social Web

The lack of active interaction of common users with the web lead to the birth of Web 2.0. The year 1999 marked the beginning of a Read-Write-Publish era with notable contributions from LiveJournal (Launched in April, 1999) and Blogger (Launched in August, 1999). Now even a non-technical user can actively interact & contribute to the web using different blog or social platforms. If we stick to Berners-Lee’s method of describing it, […] the Web 2.0, or the “read-write” web has the […] ability to contribute content and interact with other web users. This interaction and contribution has dramatically changed the landscape of the web […]. It has even more potential that we have yet to see. […] The Web 2.0 appears to be a welcome response to a web users demand to be more involved in what information is available to them.

This era empowered the common user with a few new concepts like Blogs, Social-Media & Video-Streaming. Publishing your content is only a few clicks away! Few remarkable developments of Web 2.0 are Twitter, YouTube, eZineArticles, Flickr and Facebook.

There are many different views of Web 2.0 depending on who you talk to.

[…] Developers,[…], have a much more rigid definition of Web 2.0 than average web users, and this can lead to confusion [but I don’t go into this discussion.]

Web 4.0 – “Mobile Web”
The next step is not realy a new version, but is a alternate version of what we already have. Mobile technology led us experience the social web in a completely different way…from lap-top (sit back and relax) to always on (always in the action). The web needed to adapt to it’s mobile surroundings.

Web 4.0 technology is a mobile version of web 2.0 and was (is) still a true catalyst for web 2.0 behaviour. Today there are more mobile connections then there are humans….we’re a mobile, connected society.

Phase 3 – Semantic Web (Web 3.0)

Today (2018) we’re living in this phase. Web 3.0 technology is becoming part of our everyday life…again a new change, new behaviour, new experiences.
By extending Tim Berners-Lee’s explanations, the Web 3.0 would be a “read-write-execute” web. However, this is difficult to envision in its abstract form, so let’s take a look at two things […]that will form the basis of the Web 3.0 — semantic markup and web services (= smart web).

Semantic markup refers to the communication gap between human web users and computerized applications. One of the largest organizational challenges of presenting information on the web was that web applications weren’t able to provide context to data, and, therefore, didn’t really understand what was relevant and what was not. [..]. While this is still evolving, this notion of formatting data to be understood by software agents leads to the “execute” portion of our definition, and provides a way to discuss web service.

A web service is a software system designed to support computer-to-computer interaction over the Internet. […]. Currently, thousands of web services are available. However, in the context of Web 3.0, they take center stage. By combining a semantic markup and web services, the Web 3.0 promises the potential for applications that can speak to each other directly, and for broader searches for information through simpler interfaces.
The evolution for simpler interfaces can be seen as the evolution into a screenless interface (voice assistants, smart glasses, …. f.i.)

DE_P3_Smart Web.001

Web 3.0 – how, why and when. Kate Ray has made a good documentary on web 3.0, and explains realy why we need a semantic web and what the semantic web is all about.

Are we there yet?? Yes, today (2018) we’re.

It seems we had everything we had wished for in Web 2.0, but it is way behind when it comes to intelligence. Perhaps a six-year-old child has/had better analytical abilities than existing search technologies! Keyword based search of web 2.0 resulted in an information overload. The following attributes are going to be a part of Web 3.0:

  • Extented Reality: AI/MR/VR
  • Cognification: the smart web (deductive reasoning, …)
  • Screenless: the transition into new interface to connect


Phase 4 – Emotional Web (Web 5.0)

“The next web” – “The emotional web”

Tim Berners-Lee gave an inspired TED talk in 2009 on this new Open en Linked Web.

Although Web 5.0 still is in developing mode and the true shape is still forming, first signals are in that Web 5.0 will be about a linked web which communicates with us like we communicate with each other. Web 5.0 is called “symbiotic” web. This Web will be very powerful and fully executing.   Web 5.0 will be the read-write-execution-concurrency web.

Web 5.0 will be about the (emotional) interaction between humans and computers. The interaction will become a daily habit for a lot of people based on neurotechnology. For the moment web is “emotionally” neutral, which means web does not perceive the users feel and emotions. This will change with web 5.0 – emotional web.   One example of this is, which maps emotions of people. With headphones on, users will interact with content that interacts with their emotions or changes in facial recognition.


Round Up!

Let’s try to round-up those stages into one simply overview so we can understand where we come from, and where we’re going.
From lean back, face down to chin up!
From in front of to be part off to become one!


If we focus on information and social connectivity we can make a two dimensional model. If we want to add a next phase we need to add a new dimension (f.i. relevance) .


The last graph shows us how technoly evolved in the different areas over time and where we might be headed….time will tell!


What’s important to understand[…], is that the nomenclature with which we describe […] should not be taken too seriously. Just because a website does not employ Web 2.0 features does not make it obsolete. After all, a small e-commerce website trying to sell niche products may not have any business need for users to submit content or to be able to interact with each other. […]


If you want to have a nice overview of this proces and how it had an impact on our society I can recommened the documentary ‘Lo and Behold’ (2016) from Werner Herzog.


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