Monday, September 10, 2007

Commentary: Sotir: Web 2.0 and Beyond

I get a lot of questions about the Web...and many of them center on the idea of Web 2.0, 3.0 and higher. Since these phrases are now beginning to trickle into the mainstream, I explain it this way: the original, out of the box product was the version 1.0 asynchronus Internet itself, and it was a series of one way streets. You were able to find an incredible amount of information quickly, but there was not a lot of interaction going on and if it was, you'd have to drive backwards to get it. Sure, you could send the Web host an email, and there were a few ways of communicating, but basically, it was a WYSISYG...what you see is what you get. Web 2.0 is the synchronus two way can not only see the information, but respond and react to the information. Web 2.0 is all about the blogs and the wikis and the podcasts, all of which have interactive components. Web 3.0 is the superhighway that we were promised at the outset. This is more for developers, and just tweaks a lot of the Internet into making the Web more usable. In education, Web 2.0 is the holy grail of technological use. With 2.0, you can access, manipulate and challenge the Web to give you what you want from it. 3.0 just gives us some additional options to explore, and expands the relative ease of use. As in all technology, each version has some incremental increases...2.1, 2.5 etc., even if they are all called 2.0.

Another good example is phones. The original 'cell phone' was the big and clunky 'brick phones' that we were all so captivated with when they were first introduced. I am always amused when I watch old movies to see the characters using the 'portable mobile phones' . Then the cell phone revolution took hold, ala 2.0, and we moved with lightening speed to add features such as Bluetooth, email, photos, movies, TV, texting and even the Internet itself into an object that could fit into the palm of your hand. Then the i-Phone hit the market and it does all of those things but does them with a new interface and finesse that steps it up a notch to the 3.0 level. I am sure the next level of phones will offer a lot more interaction, with more virtual reality (VR) components and ease of use. I noted that when I got the i-Phone, my old cell phone, barely a year old, suddenly seemed soooooooo last year. It's not just the cool look of the i-Phone, but features such as 'rolling' rather than typing, or even something seemingly simple like the automatic access to all of your email accounts, without putting in a user name and password each time you want to access your account that makes it a gotta have. It's easier, it's cleaner and yes, it's infinitely cooler. However, with technology, you can bet that within a relatively short time you'll laugh as the movie character picks up his i-Phone and has to use his finger to type. The new 'Apple i-MindPhone' will be ever so much cooler, capturing your thoughts as it seamlessly transfers your calls. Perhaps the holographic VR assistant will handle all these tasks for you, and offer a massage as well...oh, you get the picture.

Whatever the version, there is a newer version on the horizon, poised to win hearts and wallets. Educators will have to accept the challenge and continue the race to stay ahead of students who are at least 2 versions newer and better equipped. And they have fewer wrinkles, too.