It isn't difficult to imagine that in 10 or even 30 years into the future, the Web will be a dramatically different place. If you look at how quickly we've progressed in the last decade you can see that technology has a way of developing quite rapidly. It has been my observation that Web technology, specifically in the area of Web standards, seems to have always moved slower than other areas of technology. This is due to the immaturity of the medium; the World Wide Web can still be considered in its infancy. Another contributing factor to slow progress has been the difficulty surrounding browser vendors cooperating with each other and following standards properly.
How different might it get? To get some ideas we have to explore the possibilities. If we look at the trends on the Web today we see that video is getting more attention than ever. Companies like YouTube and Google Video are fueling the rage of "anywhere video" on the Web. Perhaps we will see video integrated into many more parts of our Web experience. It is also inevitable that three dimensional interactions will someday become part of the Web experience. There are many benefits to three dimensional imagery as a way to display information in ways that are less convenient (or simple impossible) in a two dimensional image. Flash allows Web designers to facilitate their three dimensional visualization needs and I suspect it will have a larger place in the future of the Web.
What about in the short run? Will the Semantic Web become associated with a visual fad in the way that Web 2.0 has? Web 2.0 embodies more than simply a design style; it is a paradigm shift that embraces social interaction and contribution. If the Semantic Web turns out to only be the state of technology and not representative of a particular style or trend, I feel that it is anyone's guess what we have in store for us.
Something to leave with
In the movie The Fifth Element (1999) which is set sometime in the future, what do you imagine the Web looking like? Will we uncover a superior way to represent information and all of the other wonderful things we find on the Web? Only time will tell.
Update: I think one point I'm not sure I presented clearly enough is that I feel we may have the Semantic Web/Web 3.0 pinned wrong. I don't think it will be both a design style and development style as with Web 2.0. I believe that the Semantic Web will be the technology driving a new rich media Web and that does not have specifically to do with semantics at all, simply benefiting from it.
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