Web 3.0 promises much to CIOs

In October 2009, internet experts Tim O'Reilly and John Battelle held a summit in San Francisco to unleash their new term ‘Web Squared'. Five years ago, the first such summit started the Web 2.0 ball rolling, and as a potential successor to Web 2.0, the Web Squared concept should demand at least a little CIO attention.

To a large extent, Web Squared is the collective intelligence aspect of social networking fused with what has become known as ‘The Internet Of Things' and based on the MIT-initiated notion that any object can become a network device. O'Reilly and Battelle provide more detail in their white paper Web Squared: Web 2.0 Five Years On. This explains how the ‘Squared' label signals an exponential growth in online activity as collaborative applications are increasingly fed data by cameras and other online sensors.

One of the implications of more objects getting online is that companies will have a lot more data to manage and mine. The Internet Of Things will grow as more objects and people are recognised by cloud applications that will process real-time feeds from cameras and microphones and integrate them with other data. Users will be able to see relevant data overlaid on objects, buildings and people when viewed on their mobile phone displays or even on car windscreens. The first-generation augmented reality browsers Layar and Wikitude are hinting at the potential, and no CIO should be unaware of the pending demand for those real-time data feeds on which augmented reality will depend. Just as all firms need a presence on the web, all objects associated with a company will have to be visible in augmented reality.

If the data shadows of The Internet of Things are collaboratively and openly shared we'll also be able to reap crowdsourcing benefits similar to those of social networking. Satellite navigation devices, for example, will be able to advise on routes based not only on internal maps, but also the position and predicted intent of all other vehicles on the road.

A level up, Web Squared is also about the application of internet thinking beyond computing. The idea is that new managerial and political philosophies which champion openness, transparency and many-to-many collaboration will be essential in solving global problems such as peak oil and climate change. Indeed, as O'Reilly and Battelle conclude, "Web meets world. That's Web Squared".