Saturday, August 02, 2008

Are We Ready For 3.0?

There has been some talk around the Internet about Web 3.0 and what does that exactly mean?  There are several definitions of Web 3.0, but it is easier to see it as the next step along the computing continuum, instead of something new and different.  And more importantly, what are the implications of Web 3.0 schools?

There is a good article on TechCrunchIT, written by Marc Benioff, outlining the differences between Web 1.0, Web 2.0 and Web 3.0.  Below is a video, which is a small section of an interview with Eric Schmidt, the CEO of Google and his definition of Web 3.0.

A more practical delineation of the differences between Web 1.0, Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 are as follows:
  • Web 1.0 - When you can access and consume (read/watch/listen) the content available on the Internet.

  • Web 2.0 - When you can access and consume (read/watch/listen) the content and react to it by 'publishing' your own content in some way. (blog/video/podcast)  This can also facilitate the conversation between other consumers of the media.  We access, consume, respond and republish in this stage.  One piece of media can spring forth hundreds, if not thousands of responses.  The responses reuse older media and ideas and bring them together in new and different ways (mashup), creating a new work.

  • Web 3.0  - When you can access, consume and interact with the media and applications by employing it to meet your needs and the needs of others.  Google Apps is a good example of a Web 3.0 tool.  Software is no longer something that is loaded on a local computer, it resides on a server located on the Internet.  Terms like Cloud Computing and "Software as a Service" (SaaS) will become commonplace as more and more computing occurs on a server someplace other than the users home computer.  
What are the implications of all of this and the effect on the educational process?  There are a few which are significant.
  1. Buying software is so Web 1.0:  The necessity to have all the applications to use, produce and publish content on the Internet do not need to be on the user's local machine.  There have been blogging tools and podcasting tools for quite some time, but in the past few months we have started to see online video editing tools.  This makes it possible for users to create rich, multimedia content any place at any time.  (See previous blog post!) Students don't need to own the application, it is on the Internet for them to access for free or in the case of some of the heavy hitters like Microsoft, for a subscription fee.  Personally, I don't think the subscription model is going to work after we have been given access to many very powerful applications for free.

    - Imagine students going on a field trip, taking video clips from the trip with their mobile phone, editing those clips and adding other content from online sources while on the bus on the way back to school and posting the video content on YouTube or Vimeo and embedding the video on the class wiki.  Students would be ready to present the learning to their peers when they get back to school.

  2. The Filtering Fallacy: Filtering Internet traffic on High School campuses is a fallacy!  Do we really think that we are going to keep students away from undesirable content at school?  How many new 3G iPhones or LG Dare's do you think you are going to see in the hands of students when school starts again in a few weeks?  Can we really think we can stop it?  Lawrence Lessig's quote about students and the way they interact with technology really hits the point home. 

    "We have to recognize something about our kids – that they are different from us. We made mixed tapes they remix videos. We watched TV, they make TV. It is technology that has made them different. We can’t kill the instinct technology produces, we can only criminalize it. We can’t stop our kids from using it, we can only drive it underground. We can’t make our kids passive again, we can only make them ‘pirates’."
  3. And the walls come tumbling down: The statistics I quoted in a post last week do come into play here as well...  More than 1/2 of the people on the planet have a cell phone, this includes the students we teach.  The current statistics show that 91% of 17 year old girls and 78% of 17 year old boys own a cell phone.  The mobile phone manufacturers estimate that 20% of a  teen agers own a 'smartphone' like the 'iPhone' which will allow them to access Internet based media content. The point of entry for students to have and use web enabled mobile phones is lowering very quickly.  Verizon is currently offering the LG Dare to continuing customers on their two year upgrade cycle at $149.  The new 3G iPhone is priced at $199.  This will only add to the popularity of the platform, which is expected to grow three to four fold in the next few years. 

    - To illustrate this point a little further just take a look at the biggest dance craze by US teens over the past year.  The "Soulja Boy - Crank It" video has been viewed over 33 million times in the past year.  It is in the Top 15 of all music videos and Top 20 of all videos all time on YouTube.  The video has become so popular that you cannot embed the authorized version from YouTube any longer.   I have embedded an alternate version of the video below, which has been viewed almost 10 million times.  The video shows how this dance and music craze spread... It spread through computers and smartphones and teenagers posting embedded copies of the video on their MySpace sites. 

Where is this going to go?  I think we all have an idea and we need to get ready for it, because if we don't it just might trample us!