I was a panelist today at the Red Herring Spring Conference, alongside Gurbaksh Chahal, the CEO of Bluelithium, Eric Hoffert, CEO of ShareMethods and Gil Penchina, CEO of Wikia. Representing the VC's on the panel were Sergio Monsalve and myself. The panel's title was "Web 2.0...How Passe". We talked about a few trends and then it opened up to questions.
One question was, "How do you define Web 2.0 and how do you define Web 3.0?" It's really a silly question, because the right answer is "Who cares? Why does it matter?" but we had to answer it and we tried.
I don't know if it will be called Web 3.0, 4.0 or whatever, but I believe it will be a web where the connected, super empowered consumer will be able to act.
If Web 2.0 is about self expression, as in blogs, wikis, social networks and tags, Web 3.0 will be about group action. My previous blog post gives you a glimpse as to how that will be. But you don't need a vision to see what it will be. We just recently had a example. The user revolt at Digg over the takedown of a DVD hack was one of the first times I've seen a user base take action that caused the site to change its policies. That's taking action. This example is reactionary, but in a few years it will become proactive.
Here is a hypothetical example. A group of users can, and will, through their social network (hopefully community owned with its own ad network), send an email to the CEO of Netflix and the CEO of Blockbuster asking each to give their users free months of service. The email will say something like this: "Dear CEO, we represent 15M subscribers on your service and would like a discount to our service. We will switch to whoever gives us the largest discount. Please click on the following link and follow the instructions to offer us a discount."
For this proactive actions to occur, social networks need to get organized. This requires a level of hierarchy above 'friends and contacts'. That level will be determined by a political system within the network. Leaders will be chosen and they will use the collective power of the network to get ahead in their online lives.
Everything is self-serve, online, quick and simple right? So they will quickly write code and create widgets to get better deals in everything they do, everything they buy and every service they pay for.
In Web 2.0 we had friends, in web 3.0 we'll have online governors, mayors and elections. They will collect taxes from advertisers and build their online countries with very real impact to their physical lives.
Let's wait and see.