What will the Internet be like in ten years? Will the services of a cloud company enable you to drift aimlessly in the cyber-sky, never leaving your house, never looking away from your computer screen? Or will the next iteration of social networking actually do the opposite, pushing web browsers back out into the real world, where they will find the apps, widgets, and interfaces of the Internet merged into the physical world just as seamlessly as billboards festooning the freeways?

We already know the Web 3.0 will heavily favor mobile devices and place-based messaging, a trend acknowledge by most in the industry, including long time San Diego marketing expert Lee Mills. The question is whether it will come to a resemble a Metaverse, replete with 3D and holographic simulations and augmented reality, a more traditional encyclopedia-like interface, or an empire of machine-ruled algorithms is up for grabs. All we know at this point is that the Web 3.0 will take a bold step in the direction of merging the virtual world with the physical world, and this convergence will be heavily aided by the prevalence of smartphones and other highly portable consumer mobile devices, such as pads and, who knows, possibly interface, embedded contact lenses.

Socialight, for instance, is a location-based social media platform that seeks to champion apps as ways to post and retrieve content embedded in the real world as “sticky notes” or “triggers”, such as QR codes. Many other companies have waded into this new object hyperlinking universe. Semapedia, for example, a company which recently closed its doors, created a system in which graphical tags can be used to link physical objects with Wikipedia posts. Semapedia also offered what they call “asynchronous, place-based messaging”, an early version of what we're now seeing popularized by Foursquare.

Web 3.0 will work hand in hand with advanced GPS technology as well, which is already a primary component. The aforementioned Foursquare.com (another location-based social media site, which recently cracked the 10 million user mark), allows its users to check-in to a spot using their mobile devices, which gauges geographic locations based on GPS. Other sites that use elements of Web 3.0, like Gowalla, Brightkite, Loopt and Yelp, are quickly becoming the crowd sourcing authorities on social venues, allowing users to communicate with people simply by identifying where they are, a concept at once creepy and liberating. At the very least, it's changing the landscape of social networking.

Whether or not the Internet will become full integrated into the physical world is for time to tell. In the meantime, we can look to smartphones for evidence on this exciting merger. The ideas of mobility and Internet use once seemed incompatible, but in a very short period of time the two have become inseparable. How many more of our assumptions about the Internet will prove childishly naïve?

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