Partners Are Wary Of Web 3.0 Technologies


This week at the Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco a number of companies were touting their Web 3.0 or semantic Web credentials. Radar Networks, a San Francisco company which touts itself as a pioneer of Semantic Web or Web 3.0 technology, for example, introduced Friday the "invite beta" of Twine, a service aimed at providing a way for users to share, organize and find information more easily. Radar is touting Twine as one of the first mainstream Web 3.0 technologies.

Radar Networks Founder and CEO Nova Spivack calls Yahoo the leader of Web 1.0 and Google the leader of Web 2.0. He says it is unclear who will be the leader of Web 3.0 but Twine is a "first step."

Solution providers warn that they are skeptical of such claims and careful to make sure their clients are not burned by bloated Web 3.0 claims.

Tyler Dikman, the CEO of Cooltronics, a Tampa, Fla. solution provider and the vice president of business strategy for FlickIM, a Berkeley Calif. communications platform vendor, said he is skeptical about Web 3.0 claims from Radar.

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"This sounds like a Web 3.0 Alpha launch," said Dikman of the Radar claims. "I think it's pretty gutsy for a company to call themselves a Web 3.0 company when they haven't proven themselves in the marketplace yet. Their concept is absolutely headed in the right direction, but I am skeptical about the technology until they can prove me wrong."

"It's all well and good for the industry to talk about and understand Web 3.0 technologies, but if the general public is unable to comprehend or utilize the technology it is worthless," he said. "The public as a whole are just starting to embrace Web 2.0. Companies like Radar have to make sure their targeted demographic can keep up with the technology they are putting out."

Although Radar and others are just starting to bring Web 3.0 technologies to market, the semantic Web has long been proclaimed as the next great frontier by World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners Lee.

Lee, who created the internet-based hypermedia language that led to the World Wide Web explosion, has spoken for years about the semantic web creating a whole new technology paradigm shift every bit as dramatic as the World Wide Web itself.

Solution providers, for their part, see Web 2.0 technologies, defined by Wikipedia as second generation hosted services and Web communities, already in the early majority phase as defined by technologist/author Geoffrey Moore. They say Web 3.0 semantic capabilities are still in what Moore calls the Innovator stage.

"Web 2.0 has moved from the early adopter phase to the early majority phase of the technology adoption lifecyle," said Martin Tarr, CEO of Tiburon Technologies, an Independence Ohio solution provider. "Web 3.0 is in the innovators stage."

Of course just because it's cool technology, doesn't make it viable for businesses, warn solution providers. Tarr said as a solution provider he must make sure not to put his clients at risk by putting them into a technology like Web 3.0 while it is in the innovator's stage. That's when companies can be badly burned by a technology that is bleeding edge rather than cutting edge. "As solution providers, we're careful to make sure we don't put our clients at risk by recommending solutions in the innovators stage," said Tarr."We have to at least wait for the early adopter's phase."

Tarr cautioned that it is often difficult to tell when a technology has moved from the early adopter to early majority phase. "It's not a straight line," he said. "It's a blur."

Tarr said he is concerned about whether the purveyors of Web 3.0 technologies will survive more than the viability of the technology itself. "Most clients want to know the total number of customer sites that a solution is installed at along with how many customers in their particular vertical market have installed the product," he said.

Tarr said it is a mistake to think that Web 2.0 is passe just because Web 3.0 technologies are being brought to market. "Web 3.0 is definined as emerging techology because we are making more money on seminars than on delivery," he said. "The Web 2.0 deployments that are happening today are the result of organizations putting together strategic plans 18 months ago and supporting them with budgets. We are seeing more clients implement Web 2.0 strategies."

All that said, Tarr said there is a great need for Web 3.0 technologies to help clients get to relevant information of all kinds quickly and easily. "Access to relevant information has always been a big problem and it's gotten worse with the World Wide Web, digital documentation, data repositories as well as audio and video data repositories," he said.

"Trying to find something when you have 50,000 to 60,000 Web pages to search through is next to impossible," said Tarr. Many companies have tried to solve the problem by simply inlaying a Google search engine over an application, he said.

Dikman's FlickIM is itself a Web 3.0 communications company. FlickIM combines instant messenging chat with applications that allow you to listen to music, share videos and photos, watch live video feeds and play games. Dikman says the aim is for the applications to learn about the user and display relevant information based on the user's preferences. FlickIM, he said, allows users to get all the information they would typically visit other Web sites for without leaving FlickIM. Of course, Dikman said, users can decide whether to harness that information as an "option" rather than a requirement. And he is determined to make sure it passes his own tough Web 3.0 litmus test.

"What's frustrating about Web 3.0 and the internet is that you can evolve the technology to the point where the market is not ready for it," he said. "You can have something that is light years ahead of its time, but could be ignored by the marketplace because the public doesn't understand it, isn't ready for it or isn't able to use it to their benefit."