If the Internet is a bookstore, the World Wide Web is the collection of books within that store. The Web is a collection of information which can be accessed via the Internet. The Web was created in 1989 by Sir Tim Berners-Lee and remained quiet through the 1990s, but as users increased, companies like Google started to develop algorithms to better index content which eventually lead to the concept of SEO (a significant driver of the Internet today). Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s initial vision of the Web was explained in a document called, “Information Management: A Proposal,” but today with Facebook and social media, the focus has also changed the Web into a communication tool.
Back in 1989, Sir Tim Berners-Lee wrote about three fundamental technologies that are still foundational to the Web today which include HTML, URI, and HTTP. HTML refers to the markup language of the Web, URI is like the address or URL, and HTTP supports the retrieval of linked items across the Web. These core technologies used in Web 1.0 are responsible for today’s large-scale web data. Back in Web 1.0, bottlenecks included web pages that were only understandable by a human. Also, Web 1.0 was slow and pages that needed to be refreshed often. In retrospect, it is easier to identify that Web 1.0 had servers as a major bottleneck and lacked a sound systems design with networked elements. Nonetheless, Web 1.0 is referred to as the “web of content” and was critical to the development of Web 2.0.
Web 2.0 began in 1999 and let people contribute, modify, and aggregate content using a variety of applications from blogs to wikis. This was revolutionary in the sense the web moved from being focused on content to being focused on the communication space, where content was created by individual users instead of just being produced for individual users. Web 2.0 embraced the reuse of collective information, crowdsourcing, and new methods for data aggregation. In terms of online architecture, Web 2.0 drove collaborative knowledge construction where networking became more critical to driving user interaction. At the same time, issues of open access and reuse of free data started to surface. Performance issues were encountered with frequent database access, which put a strain on Web 2.0’s scalability. However, the good news is that Web 1.0 bottlenecks on the database server side were eliminated with the ability to have databases on ramdisk and high-performance multi-core processors that supported enhanced multi-threading. However, with the benefits of Web 2.0’s flexible web design, creative reuse, and collaborative content development, bottlenecks were created by the increased volume of content by users.
Web 3.0 started around 2003 and was termed the “the web of context.” Web 3.0 is the era of defined data structures and the linking of data to support knowledge searching and automation across a variety of applications. Web 3.0 is also still referred to as the “semantic” Web, which was revolutionary in the sense that it shifted to focus to have the Web not only read by people, but also by machines. In this spirit, different models of data representation surfaced, like the concept of nodes, which lead to the scaling of web data. One of the challenges of the Web 3.0 data models was that the location and extraction processes turned into a bottleneck.
Web 4.0 began around 2012 and was named the “web of things.” Web 4.0 further evolved the concept of the Web into a symbiotic web that focused more on the intersection of machines and humans. At this point, Internet of Things devices, smart home and health monitoring devices started to contribute to big data. Mobile devices and wireless connections helped support data generation, and cloud computing took a stronghold in helping users both create and control their data. However, bottlenecks were created with the multiple devices, gadgets and applications that were connected to Web 4.0 along with changing Internet of Things protocols and exponentially growing big data logs.
Web 5.0 is currently referred to as the “symbiont web” or the web of thoughts. It was designed in a decentralized manner where devices could start to find other interconnected devices. Web 5.0 creates personal servers for personal data on information stored on a smart device like a phone, tablet, or robot. This enables the smart device to scan the 3D virtual environment and use artificial intelligence to better support the user. The bottleneck in Web 5.0 becomes the memory and calculation power of each interconnected smart device to calculate the billions of data points needed for artificial intelligence. Web 5.0 is recognized for emotional integration between humans and computers. However, the algorithms involved in understanding and predicting people’s behavior have also created a bottleneck for Web 5.0.
Where will Web evolution end? One thing is for sure, data generation is increasing year after year. To continue to get new functionality out of the evolving Web, new bottlenecks need to be addressed. There are a variety of future considerations as it relates to anticipated bottlenecks from encoding strategies to improving querying performance. However, the best way to predict what will happen in the future is to invent it.
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About the Author
Shannon Block is an entrepreneur, mother and proud member of the global community. Her educational background includes a B.S. in Physics and B.S. in Applied Mathematics from George Washington University, M.S. in Physics from Tufts University and she is currently completing her Doctorate in Computer Science. She has been the CEO of both for-profit and non-profit organizations. Follow her on Twitter @ShannonBlock or connect with her on LinkedIn.