Web what?

A numbering system has been in place on the ‘web’ for a while, and I knew about some of these … but what number are we up to now, and why? So;

  • Web 1.0 – I’ve known this as the ‘broadcast’ or ‘static’ web, where only large organisations or websites ‘broadcasted’ news and views to the listening public on static webpages.
  • Web 2.0 – The growth of the internet meant the shift in ownership of websites from large to small organisations, and to indivuduals – the social web. For me the strength in Web 2.0 was the voice and narrative shifted to the individual and gave them a medium for their own opinions and entrpreneurial activities.
  • Web 3.0 – The symantec web, the redistribution or decentralisation of search and media.
  • Web 4.0 – I’ve read some arguments about whether the ‘shift’ to mobile really needs it’s own nomenclature, but the advent of the app-economy and our phone’s ability to be so much more than just a phone is one that has enabled a connectivity and networking beyond the previous versions … the ‘always on’ generation.
  • Web 5.0 – In 2009 Tim Berners-Lee talked about the ‘symbiotic’ web as the next development, highlighting the interactino between human and computer – is this the AI in things like chat boxes on banking or commerce websites?

What I’m interested in is what the last 18 months of a global pandemic have done to alter or speed up the development of web technologies. Commerce and retailers are more common and more important to many people’s daily lives than before the pandemic (even if you could get a delivery slot for your groceries, you weren’t guaranteed to get everything you ordered), but so have tools designed to communicate and network – Zoom, Teams, FaceTime, WhatsApp, etc.

During this time the emphasis has also been on data, as well as health and education – education in terms of home-schooling, and health in terms of mental and physical health. Data, on the other hand, underpins all this … what data is collected and what is it being used for? On a daily basis, we’ve seen data (mis)used across countless news broadcasters and governments about the number of Covid cases and hospitalisations. Whether we believe the numbers, or how the numbers are being portrayed, the data itself has become very important.

So, my question is this. Has the direction of the internet’s development changed since March 2020 and the start of the Covid pandemic? If so, how? Retailers like Amazon have profited during the pandemic, so a return to the early boom of internet retail, but the massive growth of tools like Zoom or Teams for schools and families to stay in touch is a throwback to the start of the social web.

Photo by Nicolas Picard on Unsplash