The Quite Web is the era we are in right now. It began when the Internet began and it is the period of time dominated by text and image data (data that is quiet and stationary). Up until recently, rich media has been inaccessible to all but a wealthy few.

However, now that bandwidth is becoming more widely available at cheaper costs combined with the fact that rich media input devices, such as cameras and microphones, are widely available at affordable costs; we’re seeing more and more rich media information on the web. Look at the explosion of YouTube, a video sharing community that would have been inconceivable 5 years ago. Becoming evermore common place, VoIP has greatly increased the usage of the Internet for transporting rich data.

So much so, that I’m going to say we are embarking on a new time for the Internet as significant as the addition of audio to movies. At the same time, I wouldn’t think of it as Web 3.0, because I don’t think that name accurately describes this new era. We are not witnessing the next version of the web as we did with 2.0, rather we are seeing new layers form that have radical implications on culture and technology, which I’m calling the Rich Web.

The Rich Web
Technologically, the Rich Web is the mass incorporation of motion and audio. Culturally, the Rich Web is the emergence of a new level of visual and audio communication. Video blogs, or vlogs, are one example of the cultural usage of the newly accessible audio/video data. VoIP is another example. Movies are starting to sell viewings online.

The Rich Web will continue to develop on top of Web 2.0. There is a translation layer forming between the Rich Web and Web 2.0. The translation layer will be a huge part of the success of the Rich Web as it will power search and findability. It includes technologies like facial recognition and speech to text conversion. Converting audio and video into text data will enable rich content to be a part of Web 2.0, which opens up that rich content to the power of the Quiet Web (search, feeds, social bookmarks, etc).

Future players
I think Skype is a company that is at the heart of the Rich Web. With their roots in VoIP, they are enabling a variety of rich media services. I think we’ll see a fusion of cell phones and VoIP. We’ll see cell phones continue to evolve into smart devices. These smart devices will begin to associate us with things like our blogs, MySpace profiles, social bookmark lists, etc. I’ve already seen software targeted at coffee shops that allows local Internet users to see the profiles of the other people in the cafe. Using Bonjour, everyone in my local network shows up on my IM buddy list.

I’m excited to see all of the new developments that are coming from the Rich Web. I think the Rich Web is the ultimate destiny of the Internet. I think it’s the beginning of the fusion of T.V., radio, telephones, and mail into one network. Don’t get me wrong, the Internet won’t fully supplant T.V. until it can deliver HD video and surround sound. I don’t think that time is far off. And, I think T.V. has already felt a deep cut in their viewership from people spending more and more time online, which I think is attributable in part to the proliferation of rich content. As the Rich Web grows, so will participation.