Web 3.0: Women vs Bots

I was sketching these thoughts for some conference to be held in Moscow in March, soon after Women's Day in Russia and Girls' Day in Japan. The conference is supposed to be in Russian but I chose rather a strange topic and my thoughts were scattered so I decided to try English as a simple assembler language for the first sketch.

Why Web 2.0 sucks?

By the time Web 2.0 buzz started I was working for some community business, so the sound of "community", "social network", "folksonomy" and the other terms of interest were caught by my ear. But what I saw in general was different from what I expected. Yes I know there are many different things packed under that one hype label "Web 2.0". I even suspect there exists some weird filter on the border that makes everything look wrong from my Russian side of the mirror. Anyway, it looks like this.

It is said Web 1.0 was a kind of "super-library": the main feature of it was structured but static content sites produced by few for many, lacking in feedback and personal touch. But then there appeared some guys who run to the other extreme. They built many unified personal services so everyone could play with his own and the others' content on the Web, like a child who goes to the street with some paranoid Lego blocks to discover the others' paranoid Lego blocks fit well to his and could be exchanged. What a luck! So Web 2.0 is basically about people communication. Instead of "super-library" we got a sort of "super-telegraph".

But the telegraph is just a carrier not making money on the contents of the messages. What I see now in Web 2.0 buzz looks to me like the second-thought attempt to manage the contents (to sell it, right). However, we are not in static Web 1.0 anymore. Now it's megatons of "stream of consciousness" produced daily by millions people thru that "super-telegraph" machine. Yet the Web 2.0 gurus tell us their robots will do this clever job.

Hard to believe. We saw these robots closing popular LiveJournal blogs just because the keyword "NATO" was mentioned. At the same time, we saw spam bloggers cheating on PageRank and getting "popular" by robot measurement.

On the other hand, we heard the founder of so-open-to-everybody Wikipedia had to correct his own Wikipedia bio many times because other people corrected it back many times. There are several lawsuits around some Wikipedia articles, so the move to bar anonymous users from creating new articles is quite understandable, but hardly sufficient: the registration robot is the easiest to pass by.

All these problems get more obvious as we see simplified clones of Web 2.0 concepts when the buzz is getting more commercialized.

Where is Web 3.0?

So I thought I need something different and this thing for sure must be called "Web 3.0". I made some web search in hope some smart guys are building this thing already. What I found was even more strange than Web 2.0 bags. Smart guys did start talking about Web 3.0 at the end of last year. They did point out on the information chaos produced by Web 2.0. But what is the cure they propose? Mostly, just new layers of robots to manage information *instead of people*. Again! Just another super-... what now? A 3D transformer super-browser with thousand options and supercomputer requirements?

I also noticed all the people talking about Web 3.0 are Western web developers (read my lips - not normal people with healthy, realistic desires). So my first idea was to invite all these LEGO generation guys to spend a month in Moscow, where we got 30 C below zero this week. Such a creative weather could give them an insight: there are many people in the world who prefer a bit of serious information to tons of automatically sorted crap.

In my view, Web 3.0 is not about "how to impress a user with a 3D transformer browser" which would be just escalation of Web 2.0 problems. Not a bot but a human being is the best knowledge provider for another human being. Supposed this human messenger is not an idiot (who is almost a robot, even though many idiots are well masked in Terminator-like style). So Web 3.0 must be about a new meta-profession of clever people, first, and the tools for them, second. This meta-profession, "knowledge masters", is the missing link between Web 1.0 and Web 2.0:

Web 1.0 =====> Web 3.0 <====== Web 2.0
content ==> knowledge masters <== people

Who are these middlemen in the Web? Think of special type of blogger who works as a "news selector": he does not produce news himself but collects good links on some particular topics and publish them for his readers (who may have their own blogs as well but are not so good in news search). Or think of an experienced mother of three who shares a good advice on the forum for those pregnant by the first; she does a job of an advertiser of some products but her ad is "ecological" because she tested that stuff and found it good so now she connects the producer and the community of consumers in the most natural way.

There are many people of that kind in different areas of Web 2.0 jungle. I don't say they require special treatment just as a formal sign of respect. I say we *need* them treated some different way so they could do more good things for us. Think of a human agent who helps you to find a flat for rent: he uses databases and search engines, but what he is paid for is his human professional strategies that are as hard to formalize as your description of the "good flat" - yet he manages to connect the sides.

(I wrote "he" but I have to confess: the main human strategy for knowledge management is called "women". They indeed do better in fuzzy, multi-factor search, they are more practical and care much for feedback in communication. It's from biology, for sure: women tend to GROW information like children, rather than to CATCH the information in one champion jump (primitive male/idiot/robot method). I even suspect all the hype of Semantic Web is a poor attempt of male/idiot/robot revenge for that info-sexual advantage of the better half on humankind).

What a tech?

As a former internet journalist, I have many friends who now head electronic newspapers, magazines and other classic content projects. They have well-paid developers with their own CMS (content management systems), but they often ask me if I know some good people who can create contents for them. So I tell them "Build your own community and you'll get this people... if you know what is going on in that community and manage to tell its experts from the rest of the crowd".

On the other hand, now I'm working with communities based on rather simple community services. And here I see many people who can do more then just "hanging around". They can write good articles and manuals, give expert online consulting, organize off-line activity, etc. But their community services are such a "plain democracy" that they can easily be killed in some "who-is-moderator" debate with a herd of newbies. Otherwise, they stay separated in some individual spaces like personal blogs so the others just can not find them easily among graphorrhea bloggers on the same topic. What these good people need is some type of CMS that will give them special abilities according to their experience and social roles; the roles not just formally written in bio but grown in community memory. "The World of KnowledgeCraft" game.

And there comes the third type of my buddies who ask, "Well, so what exactly will be the Web 3.0 revolution application that will change the world?" Of course it would be fun to show them a fancy picture of some cute "Community Management System" where every bit of information is supported with extra "social role tags", "trust coefficients ", "experience weights" etc, and the in-built graph theory is applied to some multi-level, multi-colored structures rather than plain black-and-white nets of "registered users" or "consumers"

But I hate this way of artellect thinking since I quit programming and abandoned my PhD work on selforganization 10 year ago. The only thing I know now is that the simple email conversation with three experienced people gives me more useful (not "kinda interesting", but really useful) information than the whole bunch of Web 2.0 toys. The same way I'm happy to have three good knives of proper shape in my kitchen instead of a fancy dozen-blade Swiss souvenir. And you want me to talk about next super-AJAX or super-Google?

No way. It gets warmer outside today, only minus 20 C now, so I'd better go and show my 1,7-year old son our new flat... found for me in just two frosty days by a girl who knows flats in this city much better than Internet. Neither Web 1.0 approach (publishing my request on big sites) nor the Web 2.0 services (asking thru my web communities and social networks) gave me such a good result. So she is my Web 3.0, or Web 3.0 is she.

Alexey Andreyev,
Eva.Ru Chief Editor