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article imageThe WIP Project: Web 3.0 and User-generated Networks

By Bob Ewing     Jan 19, 2008 in Internet
European researchers took the concepts of Web 2.0, like user-generated content and social networking, into the real world. They hope to create user-generated physical networks so internets could be set up, by anyone, anytime.
A group of European researchers have taken the underlying concepts of Web 2.0, for example, user-generated content and social networking and are hoping to move them into the real world.
The press release says that their aim is to create user-generated physical networks so internets could be set up, by anyone, anytime and thus generate Web 3.0
The Internet has tremendous potential, much of which is not yet discovered and has come a long way from the early days of Web 1.0. Web 2.0 has generated the relationship economy with, projects such as, YouTube, Facebook and Flickr, for example, and more blogs than we can count.
The WIP project is seeking to create a web where users can spontaneously create their own networks, in minutes, and with any kind of data device, – mobile or fixed, handheld or deskbound.
WIP
is a project funded by the EC under the FP6-IST programme. The project runs from January 2006 until January 2009. The project team comprises 8 European organizations.
This means completely reinventing the Internet, retooling its underlying technology, creating new operating principles and defining wholly new communications protocols so that it all works with any technology.
“When the Internet first emerged, it assumed devices would be fixed in place and linked by wires,” remarks Marcelo Dias de Amorim, a researcher with the WIP project. “But that’s no longer true. A large number of devices are mobile and equipped with wireless communication capabilities.”
“We’re not looking to replace the Internet with the flick of a switch,” warns Dias de Amorim. “What we’re proposing is a robust, flexible, optimised and above all user-friendly set of technologies and standards that will mean any user, anywhere, can identify and network with any nearby devices. Without any technical expertise whatsoever.”
The press release provides this example as an illustration of how Web 3.0 would work: you live in an apartment building. You find neighbour’s wifi connections and invite them to join a new ‘building network’ with a few clicks. Now you can share and communicate with everyone.
You all have Internet connections via an ISP, ranging from 1, 2 and 5 megabits/second (Mbits/s). The residents decide to pool their money and rent a fibre-optic line that handles voice, data and TV for the whole building; now everyone has 10Mbit/s connections.
One simple example: an IP address governs the routing of information and the identity of the recipient. “That works fine in wired networks, but what happens if the user moves. Their address has changed, not the identity,” reveals Dias de Amorim.
“But if separate values are used for identity and routing, then this isn’t a problem, even if the user is walking through a park. We’ve successfully separated the two functions.”
There are many challenges that the WIP project has addressed and while it may be a radical approach will it be able to replace the Internet?
“That’s not what we’re saying,” says Dias de Amorim. “It does address the basis of networking, but it can happily plug into the Internet itself… That said if everybody, or even the majority, is using WIP to create internets, and then WIP is the Internet!”
WIP is in the testing phase and is using laboratories that are especially set up for the task, with many of the components of the system. It is moving to finalize some elements and integrate them all together over the next year.
The plan is to seed the technology in promising communities to kick-start its adoption.
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