New terms such as web 2.0, web 3.0 and information architecture seem quite confusing to those who are not familiar with more technical aspects of the internet. I should know, until recently I had no idea what these terms meant, not to mention web 4.0 and web 5.0, but I am here to tell you that it’s really not too mind boggling to understand.
We’ll begin with web 2.0.
Unlike web 1.0, which had a strict consumer/producer approach to delivering web content, web 2.0 uses a set of technologies which enable businesses to provide services to end users in “new and exciting ways”. Users of websites actively participate, providing feedback and shaping the way the website is run to be more effective. Web 2.0 also works to improve the user interface in this way.
Characteristics of web 2.0 are:
- Lightweight (as in, it is easy to use, create, adopt, and deliver using a variety of technologies and/or models)
Some people have suggested that the web version numbers represent a passage of time. Web 2.0 has been generated in the second decade of the internet’s development, and so with that, web 3.0 can be considered the third decade of the web. Bearing that in mind, web 3.0 is not an entirely different concept altogether, but instead is a progression and improvement on web 2.0.
Web 3.0 is still evolving. Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt describes web 3.0 as an alternative way of building applications, where applications are small and pieced together, the data can run on any device, it’s fast and very customizable and can be distributed virally through social networks, etc. User generated content that Web 2.0 created would be personalized and managed more efficiently, resulting in applications that are intelligent enough to sort through content knowing our interests, history, etc. and present it to us in the format we prefer.
Information architecture plays a different role to web 2.0 (and beyond). Information architecture is the organisation and presentation – the structuring, if you will – of online, shared information environments.
There are four components that make up information architecture. These components are:
- Organisation systems
- Labeling systems
- Navigation systems
- Searching systems
All of these components work together to provide an optimal experience for the site user and ultimately will influence whether the user enjoys the experience and returns, or alternatively, does not find the site user-friendly and does not return. Most of these components are visible aspects of the site, but some are simply integrated into the design and are not visibly recognized by the user – these aspects are still important nonetheless.
The relationship between web 2.0/3.0 and information architecture has to do with the evolution of user interaction with websites, user-friendly interfaces, and new technologies that can be integrated with websites structural design in order to enhance user experience and the site’s feedback.
Web 2.0 is about the interaction of users with websites – “social media” – and information architecture is about creating a design document which outlines what the goals are in creating a website and how those goals can be achieved through the visual and technical structuring of the website, therefore, these concepts go hand-in-hand. Although the purpose of web 2.0 and information architecture are different, they exist simultaneously. For example, the term web 2.0 can used to describe the progression from one-way communication on websites to two-way communication and collaboration between websites and users, and user to user. However, that progression could not have happened without the appropriate advances in information architecture. Similarly, a website can be created with the components vital for information architecture, but without the developments of web 2.0 and the principles related to web 2.0, the website would not have the reach and effectiveness to modern day users to be successful.
So..! Interesting stuff!
In keeping with the idea that these web versions are representative of the period they are developed, web 4.0 and web 5.0, or the fourth and fifth generation of the web, are difficult to imagine. As they will likely be progressions from their previous versions, their format will somewhat depend on what is more immediately to come. It has been discussed however, that the future of the web may involve technologies that are ‘intelligent’ and can make decisions for us, such as content selection and even basic communications. But if new technologies emerge and web 3.0/4.0 take a surprising turn, who knows what the future of the web may look like?
One thing is for certain, things are only moving forward. Our current use of the web is very social and very interactive, perhaps it will be the users who decide the future usage of the world wide web….