The next generation of Social Networks within "Web 3.0", Part 1

A few days ago, I wrote an article asking how you would rebuild and change Facebook given the opportunity. It got me thinking some more, so I wanted to share my thoughts on the future of social networking, Web 3.0, and what role both could play in our lives. Sorry, but I’m doing this one in parts. Otherwise I might be up all night.

So let me start with three statements:

  • I believe that social networks have the potential to transform how we manage and run our lives.
  • I believe there is the opportunity for a new social network to compete with MySpace and Facebook as the top dog or “the Google” of social networks, but that it may never come to fruition. I think Facebook especially is nimble enough to seize on the opportunities.
  • I think the next great social network will be tied strongly with mobile phones and even GPS.

Take my statements as you will, I intend to walk you through my logic in four articles on Web 3.0 and social networks. But we’ve got to start by talking about Web 3.0.

Web 3.0: Making Social Networks Useful

Web 2.0Really quickly, I need to define Web 1.0, Web 2.0, and Web 3.0 for you. I’m going to use the Resourceful Idiot definition, because it explains it in terms of progression.

  • Web 1.0: Turning “Hard” data (books, movies, opinions) into Digital Data. Examples include Netscape, Geocities, and AOL (they were all ways to post content online or gain access to that data). There were rudimentary ways to share this data (i.e. sending a link to a friend). But we knew we could do it better, so…
  • Web 2.0:Taking that Digital Data and finding better ways to share it. Facebook shares data via a social graph, RSS Feeds and News Readers sends news and data from other sources to one location (my Google Reader for example), flickr and YouTube shares photo and video data by integrating the data with other websites and APIs (application programming interface). Basically, we found better ways to share data in Web 2.0
  • Web 3.0: Now that we’ve shared the data, let’s do something with it. Let’s figure out trends, let’s integrate two service to make a better one, let’s solve problems with all of this data.
  • Now how does this relate to social networks? I’m using Facebook as my example. What do you use your Facebook for? Talking to friends, promoting events, seeing what they are up to, wasting time. This is nowhere near the potential of Facebook’s uses, but this is what most users use Facebook for. You’re sharing experiences and data, but you’re certainly not solving the world’s most pressing problems with it, yet (unless you could activism, but it’s only a tiny fraction of how Facebook is used)

    So let’s talk about a Web 3.0 Social Network. As I’ve defined it in this article, the Web 3.0 social network not only allows you to share information, but allows you to take that information and do something useful with it. It save you time, it saves you energy, it saves you money, or a combination of the three.

    Facebook saves time, energy, and money in some respects: We exert less energy keeping up to date with our friends and we don’t have to spend as much time doing it. But it’s not leveraging the information to, say, figure out where we can go next to network, prioritize our relationships, or use our combined knowledge to save the environment.

    The next social network will be able to do all three. The next social network will be able to take all of the information it gathers on you and your friends and will be able to use it to prioritize our lives, save us time, and use our combined knowledge to solve social and world issues.

    Facebook and MySpace don’t yet meet these criteria.

    Coming in Part 2: How a Web 3.0 social network could transform our lives (with examples!)