Like mobile technology and social networks, the web itself is evolving to become more open and accessible. Up until now, the Internet has provided a wealth of information for people, but the information has been almost entirely invisible to machines. Increasingly, computers can understand and use this web data too, and web-based applications are becoming better able to interact and share data in the cloud without our involvement. The end result is new services springing up that can take on increasingly complicated tasks to make our lives easier.
Web 1.0 – I like to call this first generation of internet the “one-way web” because it was really based around ecommerce sites and getting content pushed out to the people. Think early Expedia, or static guidebooks.
Web 2.0 – In the next big wave of innovation, a host of new Internet companies were created around what is now known as user generated content and social networking. I like to call this the “two-way web”, because the people using the websites are either creating the content or actually are the content, interacting with other users over web platforms. The poster-child for Web 2.0 in travel is TripAdvisor.
The New Web – Today, there is a new phenomena that promises to change the web. It has many different names. Some people call it the Semantic Web, others the Data Web, Agent Web or even Web 3.0. I don’t know what it will eventually be called, but I do know a defining characteristic of this new web is application to application interaction. For this reason, we like to call it the “interoperable web”.
This evolution and interoperability is something that has been a topic of conversation for some time. In fact, Tim Berners-Lee, the man widely acknowledged as the inventor of the Internet, predicted this a long time ago. In 1999, he wrote:
“I have a dream for the Web [in which computers] become capable of analyzing all the data on the Web – the content, links, and transactions between people and computers. A ‘Semantic Web’, which should make this possible, has yet to emerge, but when it does, the day-to-day mechanisms of trade, bureaucracy and our daily lives will be handled by machines talking to machines. The ‘intelligent agents’ people have touted for ages will finally materialize.”
Of course, in the travel business, “agents” is a loaded word. The increasingly smart applications that we see emerging are no threat to travel agents for the foreseeable future. However, travelers can look forward to having better access to information wherever and whenever they need it, as well as better web experiences that are getting more personalized every day.
Read more about the Traveler-Centric Future: