Web 3.0 explained

Smarter searches, 3D websites and artificial intelligence

Web 3.0 would bring up photos that look like Tony Blair, or songs that are by, or sound like, Elvis or whatever it was you were searching for.

Our buying behaviour is also likely to keep evolving thanks to the internet. "We already visit price comparison websites to get the best price for a product, and read up on consumer and press reviews before we make a decision," Conrad Bennett said. In the future we may be able to see what the product would look like in our home, or what we'd look like wearing it, before we buy.

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3D web

Some people also foresee a so-called 3D web, which you would be able to walk through. The 3D web is essentially an extension of the popular 'virtual worlds' like Second Life that are around today.

In the future, the whole web could be a big alternate world, or recreation of our existing world. On the 3D web you would talk a walk through the area where you are thinking of buying a house, or visiting famous landmark sites you've never seen. Google Earth already offers this to a certain extent. You can zoom in on Sydney and see its buildings and streets. The next step is to put you, or an avatar, in Sydney and let you walk around.

"It is all about making it easier for people," said Conrad Bennett. "The same trend can be seen with software applications moving online. People don't want to have to install and upgrade applications; they want to be able to access their files instantly and from anywhere."

Reaching out

The web used to be tied to our desktops. Now it is reaching our mobile phones and TVs too but it may extend even further. The MIT university in the US is currently researching the idea of internet-connected bathroom mirrors. They would display the latest news headlines while you're brushing your teeth in the morning.

Windows that automatically open or close according to online weather forecasts another idea. Or internet-enabled clothes and jewellery. Using mesh networks dotted around a home or city, the possibilities are endless.

"We are already seeing how people are changing their ways when they move from a slow to a faster internet connection," said Kevin Baughn, head of technical strategy at Virgin Media . "We are currently doing trials of a 50Mbps broadband service in Kent and the users are saying that they have started sharing video like never before, streaming TV, music and video, among other things."

Tighter connections

Seth Godin, an author on technology-related ideas, has foreseen Web 3.0 as a place where you have even tighter online connections to your friends, family, and colleagues. "There are so many things the web can do for me if it knows who my friends are, where they are, what they're doing, what they're interested in, how they can help me - and vice versa."

In his book ' Unleashing the Ideavirus ' Godin writes about Web 3.0: "If you start typing an e-mail proposing a particular business deal with Apple , a window pops up, telling you that one of your colleagues is already in talks with Apple. If you miss an airplane flight and book a new one with your mobile phone; it automatically sends messages to the friends you're meeting for dinner, letting them know you'll be late."

Web 3.0 is unlikely to change our behaviour anytime soon, however. "The media is always looking for new things to write about, and portray new trends as if they would happen overnight," said Conrad Bennett. "Even if new technologies are introduced, it takes a while for people to adopt them".