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Gov 3.0 has Entered the Building

This is a crosspost of http://dotgov.com

In my previous post, I offered definitions for Web 2.0 and Gov 2.0. However, the story does not end there. Enter: Web 3.0 and Gov 3.0.

Web 3.0, built on the foundations of the Semantic Web, is not much of a replacement of Web 2.0, but, rather, an important addition. According to Wikipedia, the Semantic Web is “an evolving development of the World Wide Web in which the meaning (semantics) of information and services on the web is defined, making it possible for the web to “understand” and satisfy the requests of people and machines to use the web content.”

As the following diagram shows, the development of the World Wide Web has four stages or quadrants plotted along two axes – Increasing Social Connectivity and Increasing Knowledge Connections and Reasoning:

The four stages of the Web - described further in the main text (From: Semantic Wave)

The four stages are briefly described as the following:

  1. The Web (Web 1.0) – “Connects Information” – has minimal social connectivity and knowledge connections and reasoning, and uses such technology as file servers, search engines and person-to-person file sharing.
  2. The Social Web (Web 2.0) – “Connects People” – still has minimal knowledge connections and reasoning but increasing social connectivity, and consists of blogs, social networking, mash-ups and the like.
  3. The Semantic Web (Web 3.0) – “Connects Knowledge” – has some social connectivity but increasing knowledge connections and reasoning, and relies on artificial intelligence, thesauri and taxonomies, and bots.
  4. The Ubiquitous Web (Web 4.0) – “Connects Intelligence” – will have increasing knowledge connections and reasoning as well as incoming social connectivity, and will rely on new technologies like automatic intellectual property, semantic wikis and smart markets.

While Web 2.0 is all about people engaging in social networks, Web 3.0 is the actually same but for machines or software applications (apps). Lets call Web 3.0 the “Facebook for Apps”.

The problem with HTML is that it works great for people, but not so good for apps that want to collaborate on information. Therefore, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) developed the Resource Description Framework (RDF), an XML standard that defines relations between data (sources), relations and it semantics (what it is).

For example, when you publish something about “New York”, we all know that it is about a city. But apps don’t know that, so they couldn’t use that information. RDF provides a format that adds metadata and explains, in this case, that “New York” is a city. Other apps that look for information on New York can now use all information related to that RDF file.

With the semantics web, the web transforms from a bunch of unstructured web pages and separate databases into ONE BIG DATABASE!

The impact of the semantic web is massive. Applications can search, filter and aggregate information for us, rather than spending hours behind Google to collect manually. Apps could even give your personalized advice based on your profile, location and real-time data that is available on the web somewhere.

Back to the New York example: if I was to click on the word “New York” in this text, I would instantly get a flightplan (based on my schedule), the best attractions to go to (based on the fact that I have a family of four), a list of hotels that fit my current budget and personal preferences, friends who will be around and suggestions for people to meet. Thus, an unlimited amount of information and databases that match my personal profile and interests, without spending hours behind Google.

When will this happen? It is actually happening now already. More and more databases are published online or accessible via API’s. We only need to wait until more organizations make their data available in RDF. Once that happens, the web starts transforming into one database and we can start building intelligent apps on top of that.

What does this all has to do with Government or Gov 3.0? Well, following the Web 3.0 definition,

Gov 3.0 kicks-off when Governments start publishing Open Data

using the semantic web standards (RDF).

The recent Open Government directive in the US and in the UK expect governments to publish their databases online. Open Data will be the next big trend in Government all over the world. The Open Gov West event in Seattle I attended last week was an important milestone: what started as a small event for a few people grew into a big event with almost 200 attendees from all over the US. The main question was a call for standards.

I have an important message for everyone who attended and those who are currently working on Open Data projects:

Publish all of that Open Data in RDF format. Chances are, this time governments and Gov 3.0 will be the driving force behind Web 3.0!

And we are a step closer to the Ubiquitous Web.

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While I hate the term 3.0 cause I feel like we need to push hard on Gov 2.0 first…I do believe in the power of semantic web. And I think the key is creating knowledge out of so much data and noise.

Alan Silberberg

I think it is healthy to have the conversation. No. Gov 2.0 is not dead and as Steve says, we are just getting started. However the rapid rate of technological innovation and implementation exceeds our ability to keep up from a language perspective. Part of the equation anyway is ability to forward think, so that in designing tools, apps, platforms, we are not precluding new technology from being used.

Hillary Hartley

From the horse’s mouth: “Web 2.0 was never meant to be a version number, simply an explanation for how the web was changing from a content delivery mechanism to a platform.” (paraphrasing Tim O’Reilly)

I hopeful, especially regarding government, that we can stay away from the BS that is 3.0, 4.0, etc. and instead talk about the technology. Linked data, the semantic web, RDF, etc. are all being discussed in our circles *now*. No reason to shy bureaucrats away from yet-another-confusing-tech-term.

My $0.02…

Michael Riedyk

The good thing on giving it a label is that it non-tech people in the industry understand what you mean.
Most people nowadays even mix up Open Source with Open Standards.
Then try talking about RDF, SPARQL, Ontologies etc. Only the insiders understand what you mean. Labeling just makes communication easier with the rest.