Here are some characteristics that make the Incremental (N3) Web different:
RSS, not HTML: HTML is the foundation for the Reference Web as we know it. The page as defined by a URL is the granularity of this Web. It is a Web that we need to go to. Over time, our access to this Web has evolved from typing in URLs to remembering bookmarks to using directories to using search engines. In contrast, the Incremental Web is built around RSS an XML format that is published to be read by computers. It carries the payload for what is new on a site. It allows changes to be tracked.
Subscriptions, not Search: With HTML, the best we can do in terms of remembering a site is bookmarks. Bookmarks had gone out of fashion because of search engines, but group tagging and sharing services like del.icio.us are bringing them back to life. Search engines remain the predominant way one finds information in the world of the Reference Web. With RSS, however, a new form of access is possible. This revolves around Subscriptions. Subscriptions are akin to setting up a form of relationship with content or a site, such that future published content can be delivered to subscribers.
Persistent Search: A related idea is that of persistent search. Here is how Bill Burnham explains it:
Simply put, Persistent Search allows users to enter a search query just once and then receive constant, near real-time, automatic updates whenever new content that meets their search criteria is published on the web. For example, lets say you are a stock trader and you want to know whenever one of the stocks in your portfolio is mentioned on the web. By using a persistent search query, you can be assured that you will receive a real-time notification whenever one of your stocks is mentioned. Or perhaps you are a teenager who is a rabid fan of a rock group. Wouldnt it be nice to have a constant stream of updates on band gossip, upcoming concerts, and new albums flowing to your mobile phone? Or maybe you are just looking to rent the perfect apartment or buy a specific antique. Wouldnt it be nice to get notified as soon as new items which roughly matched your criteria were listed on the web so that you were able to respond before someone else beat you to the punch? Persistent search makes all of this possible for end users with very little incremental effort.
Persistent Search presents search companies with the opportunity to build rich, persistent relationships with their users. The search engine that captures a users persistent searches will not only have regular, automatic exposure to that user, but they will be able to build a much better understanding of the unique needs and interests of that user which should theoretically enable them to sell more relevant ads and services at higher prices. They will also stand a much better chance of capturing all or most of that users ad-hoc queries because they will already be in regular contact with the user.
Tomorrow: Characteristics (continued)
TECH TALK The Now-New-Near Web+T