Web 2.0, 3.0, 4.0...

"Web 2.0" is a phrase which has been much discussed and debated. It was in Time Magazines Top 10 Buzz Words of 2006. The phrase was coined by O'Reilly Media in 2004 and "refers to a perceived or proposed second generation of Internet-based services" such as social networking sites, wikis, communication tools, etc, that emphasize online collaboration and sharing among users. Basically then, its original use was a description of user enhanced internet applications. Things such as RSS, blogs, forums, CSS, accessibility, user generated content, server side software and data driven content are all associated with coming under this buzz word.

What I want to mention in this short article, is the fact that the term "Web 2.0" is also used by some (me included), to describe a certain type of design style. Whilst discussing this recently, a friend asked me what Web 2.0 was - the first thing that came to my mind was the design style rather than the real meaning behind the movement that we have all become part of. Simple, clean, typographically heavy, colourful header bars and glassy icon designs all flashed through my mind. As I started to explain these styles, I realised that this really wasn't the true explanation of Web 2.0 and that the practical technology and usability issues had almost been obscured by my brain. They had been replaced by the graphic styles and I had almost forgotten the real meaning of Web 2.0.

So what I would like to suggest is that these graphic styles have also become part of this movement. That although "Web 2.0" was a term used originally to describe a technical movement, it has also creatively become a movement. A "fad" indeed, and one that all graphic designers need to bear in mind.

What's next then, after Web 2.0 I mean? Well "Web 3.0" of course! Incidentally, as I've mentioned "Web 3.0", will I be famous and get into wikipedia for the first person to name the next generation of online applications? Probably not, because a short search on goggle will show that this term is constantly being used by the experts. "Wait a mo" I here you say, "I've not caught up with "Web 2.0" yet!" - "well", I reply, "you'd better, because from the look of it web 3.0 is going to revolutionize the internet... again". Apparently we won't bother with applications on our computers anymore. We'll be using browser driven software for all of our word processing, filing, game playing and living needs. The internet is set to take over your life - and if you think it has already, it can always get worse (or better depending on your views).

So now I have another question - will web 3.0 have its own style as well? Any ideas to how that will look? The same but better? Maybe we will get sick of being clean and will go back to the busy maxamilist design styles of the "flash era"?

Ok now I'm going to blow your mind. What about web 4.0 (can get a credit for coining that phrase please)? Will that have another technical style with an accompanying graphic style to compliment it? If so I wonder what it will look like...


Nice article Matt. It's nice to see that some people recognize the difference between the technology "Web 2.0", and the style of "Web 2.0". It's funny to see how very few people actually realize that the style was a follow up of the function.

Have a nice day.