Oh No…… Web 3.0.

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Concepts, Higher Education, Marketing, Social Media, Strategy, Technology, Thoughts, Web, Web 3.0 | Posted on 12-10-2008


It was inevitable.  Web 3.0 had to start rearing its name into the conversation at some point, right? Sorry to drop the bomb so early, but we need to always be looking ahead as well.

This post comes from two things.

  1. A comment left on my last post by Mike.
  2. A post by John Cass, who defines web 3.0.

First, let’s look at John’s post. He writes:

I was recently asked to define web 3.0.

To do so I thought I’d start off by defining web 1.0 and 2.0.

Web 1.0 - Create content on my site for others to read.
Web 2.0 -
Other people come to my website to contribute content, or between sites.
Web 3.0 -
Use content on other websites to create content or collaborate on my site or between sites.


Now, let’s look at Mike’s comment to Kyle this morning on the discussion of social media.


@Kyle- I think the notion of “our content” and using sites like Facebook as a way to drive people to “our content” is a dying strategy. Universities are discussed in many places- collegeclicktv.com, unigo.com, etc.- that a university doesn’t control, can’t control, and, to my thinking, shouldn’t control. Link to these places and let visitors decide whether it’s valuable or not.


Web 3.0 for Universities and Colleges

Web 3.0….. letting go? Ceding control? Pulling content in from sites like Unigo, YouTube, Twitter, all ‘that web 2.0 jazz’ and letting it tell your institution’s story? Creating your content from the content of other sites, and also pushing your content back to those sites?

Just something to think about today. It will be interesting to see how things evolve.  The cool thing is that we, the user, can help define it.

Comments posted (11)

Perhaps I’m biased (okay… not perhaps…), but I’m totally on board with what Mike is saying. Web 3.0 and it’s the schools that embrace it that will win in the end — not only does the action of embracing it show confidence in their brand/ product, but it also empowers them to act on whatever criticism might come to the forefront and maximize the good press that comes from “listening to the people”.

One little inside story: College X is so interested in offering their students’ perspectives that upon learning of all the content on Unigo, the school sent out a mass e-mail to its prospect list (30,000+) letting them know that they should check out College X students’ content on the Unigo site. A bold move, but why not? It cost College X not a dime (and oh, how precious those dimes are in this economy!) and made them look confident in what they’ve provided to their students to date. Win/ win.

Here’s a silly example of the “our content” point of view. I’m fairly new at my university (11 months on the job) and when I came across all the videos about our school at collegeclicktv.com, I forwarded the link to my boss to see whether they knew about it or not. My boss sent it to his boss who more or less said they weren’t going to fight it. They didn’t like that the site didn’t get approval to make the videos, but the quality was good enough and admissions said it might be beneficial so they let it go.

They wouldn’t fight it? What would they have done- a cease and desist letter? A lawsuit? I don’t know the legalities of making and posting videos made on the grounds of a university, but even if it can be legally stopped, I can only imagine the kind of bad press the school would get for doing so.

Fighting this sort of content is a lose lose situation where both loses are on the university’s side. First they lose an overwhelmingly positive stream of credible video testimonials from ordinary students. They next lose the public relations disaster whereby they are seen as Big Brother squashing the little guy for not parroting the officially approved talking points.

I don’t like the phrase Web 3.0 (or Web 2.0 for that matter).

Your right though. Businesses and institutions (i.e., schools) are losing control of their image online. They will be better off in the future working on their “product” than trying to convince people to buy into what they’re selling.

I recently introduced the concept of CMS 3.0 based exactly on this reality…that “content” doesn’t reside just on our websites anymore: http://collegiatewebsolutions.blogspot.com/2008/11/introducing-cms-30.html.

If an institution has a strong brand and positive reputation, makes it easier to incorporate user-generated content from other sites.

I agree that “Web 3.0″ is going to be about more intense collaboration. If an entity such as a university doesn’t take a willing part, they’ll end up taking an unwilling part. As Ben Franklin said, “Drive your business, or your business will drive you.”

That’s already what Web 2.0 is about. Universities just choose not tot embrace it.

Thanks for the mention on your post. I think web 3.0 is not just about pulling content but also being able to describe what content you pull, so that you can use the information intelligently. (may need to update my definition). Is there any information all colleges need from students that they could create, and by collaborating the colleges would benefit themselves, the students and each other?

I think John’s point about using the information intelligently is a really important one to consider. Yesterday, I spent about an hour on the phone with a college counselor who was taking a look at Unigo.com and letting me know his thoughts on it. He had a lot of great things to say about the site but was concerned about the potential of the user being flooded with information (not a problem yet, but could potentially be, when the site takes off…and yes, I said when, not IF. gotta keep the eyes on the prize! haha).

Anyway, my point being, that in today’s information age, we are often encountered with the problem of TOO MUCH information–that’s why you see the emergence of all these recommendation sites like Digg and Stumble and info aggregators like Google Reader–people need help keeping up with all the information that’s available to them now, but also a way of canceling out the “noise” and weeding through the inevitable gunk that can accrue.

I think in Web 3.0, wherever it may take us, emphasis should be placed on the QUALITY of content and information, because clearly we have no idea amassing an astounding quantity of info. Finding ways to locate the most helpful, the most useful, the most pertinent information and then helping the user to process it should be a priority.

Anyway, those were just my 2 cents. Hope they were coherent, LOL.

The idea of too much content is an interesting one. On the one hand, you can drown in it without some way to sift through it or make sense of it as Julia notes above. On the other hand, wow, isn’t this a great problem to be stuck with? I’d much rather edit down a lot of content to end up with a smaller, but higher quality amount (not that more = better, but it easily could). The other option is to figure out a way to create great content given the small, overworked team I work with that’s under deadline and supervised by people who may not get it.

Also, you never know what site visitors will regard as good content or bad content. A grainy YouTube video may not pass muster with a university’s marketing police, but it might be awesome to an 18 year old. Who knows? Better to offer it up via an embedded piece or a text link or a Twitter pointer or whatever else. Put it out there and see.

I’ve really enjoyed the past couple of posts and the comments on this one – thanks everyone.

Just a couple of quick points:

1) Call it what we will Web 2.0 / 3.0 – people have conversations, where they have them is irrelevant
2) Like it or not our students (and anyone who comes in to contact with our brand) are potential ambassadors – some will be negative, hopefully more will be positive but likely even more will remain silent
3) These ambassadors will help develop our brands around what’s relevant to them and to their friends, utilising their own networks and tools
4) Our content will be developed for us (especially if we can enable this to happen) but we can’t expect to control it (in terms of quality of content or messaging) so it will often jar with an official line that we may want to take
5) How we engage with the content could be crucial to our success or failure.

Now a couple of questions because apparently, we (collectively) are good at this sort of thing

1) We will still have our own official content but how can we fit it in to relevant conversation spaces? Related to this is how do we enable our content to allow it to be used.
2) What should our strategy be to manage the unofficial content?
3) Once we have classified this unofficial content (if this is necessary) how do we disperse it – link journalism (or some future equivalent)? If so what editorial policy should we run?
4) What are the related issues – SEO and content management immediately come to mind – but what else will be affected?
5) Finally what sort of content is going to be the most crucial for us, is it lots of surface information or do we less but deeper content?

I agree with you that there’s more to gain from treating these web conversations as, well, a conversation to take part of.

I also have a post on Web 3.0 here

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