Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Web 0.0

Before Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 entered the lexicon, and before talk surfaced of Web 3.0, we lived in a Web-free world, a world worlds apart from our world today.

During Web 0.0, the Web was only an Internet, and without the pretty pictures, fancy functionalities and august applications. Nobody talked about this Internet. Normal people didn't talk about it, anyway. Most didn't even know about it. The vast majority of us interacted face-to-face or via phones (many of which sported rotary dials). Truckers and other cool people used CB radios. Only geeks and the military found themselves interacting via electronic mail with others from disparate, sometimes remote locations, and only geeks and the military would have understood their lot in this way.

The Internet of yore was serious, solely for the conducting of serious business. And that serious business wasn't even business; it was serious scientific research and the serious matter of national security, both facilitated by real-time communication. Life was slower for everyone else, who also went about their business, commerce or personal, in real-time, but didn't know it was in real-time, or off-line, even though it was.

Sit there. Imagine what this world must have been like. If you're old enough, conserve those creative juices and simply remember. Civilization still managed to advance by leaps and bounds over the many years that predated the Web, and progress progressed at a breakneck pace for the many more years that predated the Internet. We don't need the Web, but it's a blessing to have.

As counterintuitive as it may seem, the Web is becoming more and more like Web 0.0. It's growing ever more organic and natural. Organic is a buzzword, of course, and natural is one of those empty descriptors that annoy professional writers. What I mean is the Web is trying to get back to Web 0.0, but with a twist. Many-to-many communication is slowly but surely achieving the same fluidity that one-to-one communication has always enjoyed without the aid of high technology. The Web is growing ever more efficient.

Think of interaction without the interference of high-tech media. It's natural and effortless. It's organic. Interaction in a Web 0.0 world -- which still exists, by the way -- is efficient, albeit archaic and constrained by inherent limitations of logistics. But the Web has limitations, too: the limitations of technology. As we've striven to render Web 1.0, Web 2.0 and beyond as Web 0.0 as possible, we've been painfully aware of these limitations.

And that's the point. In everything we do online, we pine for the Web to be as natural, effortless and organic as Web 0.0 has always been, but without the limitations that led great minds to lay the groundwork for the Web in the first place. We search for the efficiency we enjoy when we share dinner and a conversation with a friend or colleague, but on a grand scale and with the speed that technology allows.

In our quest to get back to a Web 0.0 world, we look for it within the Web. In our attempt to communicate ever more efficiently online, we create Web 0.0 redux.

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