Web 4.0 is here. 20 million people love it. Many hate it. Most do not recognise it. Lets map out the bits we already use and plan our businesses for Web 4.0.
Web 4.0 hit full time in 2010. I presented Web 4.0 at DrupalCamp Sydney 2000.
On the way to Web 4.0
Client-server was invented way back when people talked about years using only two digits. Client-server architecture has a client requesting data and services from a server which is the way the Web works with the Web browser as the client of the Web server and your email program is the client of a mail server.
Multiple level client-server existed back when I was a kid building my first PC. Today we have Web servers as clients of database servers. Web services from one Web server to another is client-server. There are applications running inside Firefox that are clients of Firefox.
in one of my first PCs, back before IBM and Microsoft entered the market, I built the disk storage as a closely coupled server adjacent to the processing server. Think of a blade server where one of the blades is a NAS. When I started work on mainframes, I found people trying to do what I did in the PC.
The whole idea of client-server is to place the processing where it is most efficient and reduce the data. Web page based systems send minimal data up to the server but get back massive amounts of redundant data. Caching images and other tricks reduces the redundancy. Client-server thinking further reduces the data flowing in both directions.
There are several reasons for distributing processing. Distributing the processing vertically, across the network between a request and the data, reduces the data bottlenecks. Mainframe systems used System 32, Unix, and PC processors to offload request processing from the expensive mainframes. The mainframes focused on handling data including scanning databases. The local processing focussed on data validation and presentation.
Web 4.0 does to the Web what that Wang invention did to computing.
Web based systems can validate data locally but cannot guarantee the data is returned without interference and the Web server has to repeat all the validation. Client-server based systems introduce controls to limit the range of interference. SSL and similar security systems add encryption to ensure the data is sent without interference but the processing overheads are huge. Severely limiting the data sent to a service by using a focused XMLHTTPRequest instead of a general Web page request reduces processing overheads.
Good design makes everything better. Bad design is also possible. I also see a lot of bad design. Some client-server and Web services systems request a large amount of data from the server then filter the data in the client instead of in the server. Good design moves filtering and sorting and other work to the point where it is most efficient.
Part of Web 4.0, and most of what is sold as Web 2.0 and Web 3.0, is based on making parts of Web pages act independently of the Web page without the limitations of iframes, flash, and similar poorly designed implementations. You want to make a button work the way a desktop application button works. Microsoft invented the XMLHTTPRequest for Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft Exchange 2000. Microsoft released the same function in Internet Explore 5.0 back in 1999. Mozilla had a full working equivalent in their browsers by 2002. The W3C published a first draft of a standard in 2006 and it was still being revised in 2009. Microsoft added a W3C compatible XMLHTTPRequest to Internet Explorer 7 in 2006.
Many Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 features have nothing to do with the way you access data. XMLHTTPRequest is used purely because it makes the features faster and easier. Web 4.0 requires XMLHTTPRequest because Web 4.0 does away with the Web page as a unit of interaction to data.
Facebook is battling with Amazon, eBay, Google, Linked In, and Microsoft for the same dollars. Amazon and eBay sell real products. Well, a lot of what is on eBay is fake. A typical example is the person who sold my book
signed by the author for five times the retail price. I did not sign them.
So Amazon is really the only big online business with real products. All the others depend on selling things with no real value, including advertising. To make their non products have value, they have to be the biggest or most popular or most active in their market. The choice is to make your site more useful or to make your site more entertaining. Most of the big sites choose to make their sites more entertaining, which gives them huge numbers of low value members. They have to reduce the overheads associated with servicing a member.
You can reduce overheads with client-server processing and XMLHTTPRequest style requests.
Apple makes money by selling things as fashion accessories then forcing the fashion victims to buy through Apple stores. There is absolutely nothing new in any Apple product. The first colourful Macs copied the fashion colours at Gap. The first iPhone looked weak next to the existing smartphones because Apple left out so many common features. Their market is first time buyers with no experience of smartphones.
The first iPhone users were forced to buy air time from a specific telephone company that charged way above average price. The iPhone is used to play music more then anything else and you have to buy the music from Apple. You have to buy the same music again every time you buy an iPhone and, as a fashion victim, you have to buy a new iPhone every year. Apple gets away with this rort the same way AOL survived for so long, sell to inexperienced users and overcharge them for a lot of little things.
The Web is direct competition to Apple because the Web presents reality, something Apple wants to hide from iPhone users. Apple tries to make people access the Web using applications sold through the Apple store. Flash is banned because Flash games compete against the largest group of Apple applications, games.
Apple is the closest to Web 4.0 and the Web 4.0 way of making money. Keep your users away from the Web and in the world you create.
Google is a close second. Many people give up on email and use Gmail instead. If you prefer to live in Internet cafes instead of carrying a notebook computer with you, Gmail is a real alternative. Google a rushing to replace all your other applications with Google clones so you will never leave the Google world. They are replacing your Web browser and your operating system with Google stuff. Google is a big threat to the closed world of the Apple iPhone.
Web 4.0 will keep people away from the Web to keep you in the private world of whoever first captures your attention.
Web site owners want to keep people within a Web site by capturing and locking in user data. Device manufacturers want to lock you into their devices and their devices do not have enough storage so the device manufacturers have to hide Web sites behind their products. You can make your Web site more valuable by partnering with a device manufacturer. Nobody will see your Web site. You will be a wholesale supplier, not a retailer.
Handheld devices are the current big thing. Wearable devices, including augmented sunglasses, are next, along with smart dashboard in cars. Today Ford provide a docking station for the iPhone so iPhone buyers will buy Fords but Ford will not stop there, they are already trying to make their cars so smart that you will spend your next bonus on a new Ford instead of a new iPhone.
The iPhone is a clone of an old HTC smart phone without all the smart bits. Remove half the features and double the price. Nice. Now all the iPhone users are experienced and will look at the HTC models with built in FM and everything else. Why carry around a huge case full of accessories for an iPhone when you can have them built in for no extra cost.
The HTCs and iPhones are built on chips you can add to any car or washing machine. A microwave oven could use one of the chips and a translucent screen to display recipes. Why have a computer or an iPhone displaying recipes in the kitchen when you already have the whole front of the microwave sitting there as vacant space?
The microwave needs a Web site full of recipes. You want your site there selling your site but the microwave manufacturer wants to sell their refrigerator and oven and vacuum cleaner. You could give up on fighting in the retail space and focus on a site for microwave manufacturers.
The back end administration of Web 4.0 sites can still remain Web page based. A site dedicated to displaying cocktail recipes on the side of a Bamix could use a full size Web page to display usage trends and other thinks too large to fit the Bamix screen.
Given the number of years since the first use of the term Web 2.0, I tired to find the first uses of Web 3.0 and Web 4.0. 2007 seems to be the first online mention of Web 4.0 that still remains in original form. 2007 is several years after I first publicly explained the future evolution of the Web and six years after I started talking about the things we could do with the Web when the hardware caught up with the concept of what we now know as Web 4.0.
One media report featured a Java programmer predicting Java would be the future of the Web and that Java would make possible things we could not do back then. Only we could do them back then and without Java. At that time the only things holding back the future were lack of network access in most parts of the world, a lack of network speed in most of the places where you could access the network, and the lack of speed in practical devices.
There were lots of
The Web will make the world a better place predictions which ignored the billion people without access to clean drinking water.
There were lots of
Web 4.0 will enrich your experience despite the same people having made the same claims for Web 2.0, the struggling Web 3.0, Microsoft Silverlight, and every other software gimmick in existence. The best way to enrich people's experience is to remove the billions of Web pages that copy other people's Web pages without adding anything. Google could make their search engine feature the original content pages, not some stupid tweet that refers to a blog entry that makes you work through endless other blog entries to reach the actual content.
Lots of the future of the Web articles claim you have to switch to another programming language to achieve anything. They often pick one programming language then claim it is not a programming language then state that switching to their choice of not-a-programming language will suddenly let everyone create massive brilliant applications without restriction because there is no programming required.
One futurologist used spreadsheets as an example of non programming. Hey, have they ever spent a day debugging pivot tables in a spreadsheet? No! The simplest use of a spreadsheet is as a replacement for a printing adding machine and people using spreadsheets for that simple activity fail to correctly express the bounds of the range being added. People have differing needs and though processes. There is a need for a variety of tools to fit each task and person. No one answer fits everything. None of the new tools for creating applications removes the need for programming or the need for logic.
What is actually happening is an increase in the range of prebuilt applications and many of those new applications depend on more sophisticated and precise programming, not a new programming or development tool. You can now customise applications by adding and removing prebuilt blocks. You are not creating applications, that was done by the programmers, you simply removing the bits you do not use so there are less buttons and options on the screens you work with.
So I and a few other people were right all those years ago but the media ignored the truth and publicised the ravings of idiots, because they create headlines, and the junk from marketing people because they pay for the advertising that keeps the media alive. Every year you were inflicted with things that you have to buy, according to the media, then throw out the following year because there is a replacement you
just have to have.
The only predictions you can really rely on are the wristwatch radio first used by the cartoon character Dick Tracy in 1946 then the wristwatch two way TV first used by Dick Tracy in 1964. We had those devices 40 years after they were conceived. Now the hardware is in place to do almost anything and only software development remains.
Web 4.0 sites will feed dedicated applications and may have no visible Web pages.