Web Squared: Web meets the World
August 24, 2009

In anticipation of the upcoming Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco later this year, Tim O’Reilly and John Battelle published a whitepaper descibing this years theme: “Web Squared: Web 2.0 Five Years On”.

Reflecting the last five years of this Web 2.0 conference with the main insight that Web 2.0 is all about harnessing collective intelligence they point out that the corresponding applications depend on managing, understanding, and responding to massive amounts of user-generated data in real time. Furthermore through the mobile revolution these applications are no longer being driven solely by humans typing on keyboards but, increasingly, by sensors, while the data is being collected, presented, and acted upon in real time.

With more users and sensors feeding more applications and platforms, developers are able to tackle serious real-world problems. As a result, the Web opportunity is no longer growing arithmetically; it’s growing exponentially. Hence our theme for this year: Web Squared.

Being constantly asked about the successor of the Web 2.0 they want to use this year’s summit to explore the phenomena facilitated by the mobile and the sensor revolution.

Is it the semantic web? The sentient web? Is it the social web? The mobile web? Is it some form of virtual reality? It is all of those, and more. The Web is no longer a collection of static pages […] that describe something in the world. Increasingly, the Web is the world […].

Based on the fact that more and more real world objects have “information shadows” in cyberspace which become thicker and more substantial they promote an alternative way to put the Internet of Things finally into practice.

The assumption is that every object must have a unique identifier for the Internet of Things to work. What the Web 2.0 sensibility tells us is that we’ll get to the Internet of Things via a hodgepodge of sensor data contributing, bottom-up, to machinelearning applications that gradually make more and more sense of the data that is handed to them. […] Our cameras, our microphones, are becoming the eyes and ears of the Web, our motion sensors, proximity sensors its proprioception, GPS its sense of location. […] We are meeting the Internet, and it is us. Sensors and monitoring programs are not acting alone, but in concert with their human partners. We teach our photo program to recognize faces that matter to us, we share news that we care about, we add tags to our tweets so that they can be grouped more easily. In adding value for ourselves, we are adding value to the social web as well. Our devices extend us, and we extend them.

Finally they insist that this new direction for the Web […] opens enormous new possibilities and close the whitepaper with the following statement.

When we started the Web 2.0 events, we stated that “the Web is a platform.” Since then, thousands of businesses and millions of lives have been changed by the products and services built on that platform. But 2009 marks a pivot point in the history of the Web. It’s time to leverage the true power of the platform we’ve built. The Web is no longer an industry unto itself—the Web is now the world. […] It’s time for the Web to engage the real world. Web meets World—that’s Web Squared.