Just as the general public is learning about Web 2.0, and gaining a basic understanding of how it’s different from what came before, along comes Web 3.0 .

From the billions of documents that form the World Wide Web and the links that weave them together, computer scientists and a growing collection of start-up companies are finding new ways to mine human intelligence.

Their goal is to add a layer of meaning on top of the existing Web that would make it less of a catalog and more of a guide – and even provide the foundation for systems that can reason in a human fashion. That level of artificial intelligence, with machines doing the thinking instead of simply following commands, has eluded researchers for more than half a century.

Regardless of whether you’re willing to accept the meaningless “Web 3.0” label, creating that layer of meaning for information is the logical next step for web applications.

(Back at the birth of the web, Tim Berners-Lee called this the “semantic web”. Much better name.)

Currently there’s a rapid growth in the development of tools that allow anyone to be a contributor.

However, although today’s search tools are pretty good at finding pages, they don’t offer much in the way of context, especially when it comes to the social and personal aspects embedded in the results.

Adding that missing piece will require much smarter system than we have now.

Once upon a time I took a course on artificial intelligence which looked at the concept of creating context from data.

But I’m not about to pretend I understand how the computer science folks are going to make this work.

I just know that it will be exciting to watch it happen.

web 3.0, web 2.0, semantic web