The Internet or Web is simply a massive document storage and retrieval platform. It allows us to upload documents and store data to machines that are interconnected to one another. We created communication protocols in order to allow interaction between humans and computers. Computers do not understand what information means, they just know how to communicate the information from one computer to another and from computer to humans. This can be referred to Web 1.0 and defined the first era of the Internet.
The Internet then evolved to Web 2.0, which in essence introduced “Linked Data” in a much more intricate and elaborate way. Linked data allows machines to better understand documents, data sets and elements within documents so that we as humans can retrieve more meaningful data from the Web. This is where the term “semantics” came into the Web context. Semantics means “meaning” and allows the documents and data on the Web to be presented to us (retrieved) in a more meaningful way.
But there is still a massive disconnect. The disconnect lies between humans and machines. Humans communicate through human language and machines communicate through machine language. We have a lot of trouble communicating with one another and the protocols that have been created in the past to support the Internet were not designed to allow machines to “understand” and give meaning to documents and data.
This is the problem today and why the Web is actually broken and dysfunctional. It is a Web operating on basic communication protocols that do not allow a universal communication language between humans and machines. It is still a meaningless Web hacked together by software protocols, patched and re-patched simply for the purpose of human demand and consumption.
Enter Web 3.0. The semantic Web. This is a Web of meaningful connection between human and machine. It is a Web where computers and machines (any physical device) can give meaning to documents and data and communicate with other machines in order to facilitate a much more meaningful human-machine connection with the Web and the devices within it.
The Semantic Web is happening today but it is still in its infancy. In the next decade we will see this semantic Web mature and it will have a tremendous impact on our day to day lives. The Semantic Web is about things, everything connected to the Web, such as people, places, events, calendars, movies, music, every appliance in your home, transport devises like cars, planes, trains, mobile devices…etc. The Semantic Web will facilitate meaningful connections between everything connected to the Web and help us in our day to day lives.
If you though social media was the future, you are thinking too shallow. The answer lies much deeper then social media which is simply an application of the web, not a function. I see a possible role for new TLDs to play a part in this semantic Web. Take for example big brands like Fedex, UPS and Sony. Fedex and UPS will be able to track parcels with clearly readable and memorable addresses, adding million of domains to the Internet landscape in the form of ID.fedex or ID.ups …. Sony may give a domain name to each and every device it sells in order to identify it in a more meaningful way and allow you to interact and connect with the device without having to remember Network details and IP addresses.
The new TLDs could play a role in facilitating the future semantic Web and the communication between devices and humans. We could literally witness billions of domain names in the decade to come. After all, what is a domain name but a memorable and meaningful address. Humans love to keep things simple, computers don’t care as long as they have clear instruction, so a human nomenclature to the devices on the Web make a lot of sense in the future semantic Web.