When the Worldwide Web first started—what we call Web 1.0—it was all about search and having access to information. It’s when we used the web as an Information Age tool, for our Information Age world.

Today, it’s all about Web 2.0, where the key activities are sharing and communicating, rather than just informing. I wrote about this in my 1993 book Technotrends, where I talked about how the information age would shift to the communication age. I said that when our devices become true communication age devices—when we could use them for informing and communicating—then we’d have another revolution.

Well, look where we are today. Apple helped to spur this revolution, when they came out with the iPhone and gave us a true communication/information age device. In other words, it combined the information age and communication age.

So where is the web going? It’s Web 3.0, and that means immersion.

Web 3.0 is about the 3D experience, and I’m not talking 3D where you have to wear fancy glasses. That’s too cumbersome. I’m talking about using our main computers, tablets, smart phones, and games and not having to wear glasses to have a fully-immersed 3D experience. Web 3.0 allows you to go into environments (think Xbox gaming), as well as experience 3D where things stick out at you, like when you go to the movies and put on those glasses.

This means that in the future, we’ll have 3D web browsers where we see web pages in 3D. Currently, web pages are like flat pieces of paper. Sure, they may have a hyperlink or a video embedded, but in the end it’s still a flat experience. The company that brings us the first 3D web browser will be an enviable and formidable competitor, for sure.

Let’s look even further down the road, to Web 4.0, which is all about intelligence. With Web 4.0 comes a personal assistant. Apple has given us a taste of this with Siri, where you can talk to your phone and Siri answers, but Web 4.0 will go even further. Your personal assistant with Web 4.0 will search for you without you even specifically asking. Your personal assistant will know your preferences, your likes, and your needs, automatically compiling, presenting, and sharing what’s pertinent.

Realize, too, that this evolution will come to us fast. While it took us many years to get from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0, with processing power, bandwidth, and storage growing exponentially, Web 3.0 will be here soon, and Web 4.0 will be close behind. So be ready for the next generation of Web. It’s sure to be a fun and exciting ride.

Daniel Burrus

Article first published as Where’s the Web Heading? A Prediction on Technorati.