Bill Joy, the inventor of Berkeley Unix, the founder of Sun Microsystems, and now a partner at Kleiner Perkins, that most blue-blooded of venture capital firms, is describing a taxonomy for the Internet. He calls it “the six Webs.” I have heard him give this speech before - most distantly at the World Economic Forum in Davos in 1999. I am a little surprised that he’s still delivering the lecture - but his ideas are not uninteresting, and are worth noting.
Bill Joy’s six Webs are:
1. The Near Web: This is the Internet that you see when you lean over a screen - like a laptop.
2. The Here Web. This is the Internet that is always with you because you accesses it through a device you always carry - like a cell phone.
3. The Far Web. This is the Internet you see when you sit back from a big screen - like a television or a kiosk.
4. The Weird Web. This is the Internet you access through your voice and which you listen to - say when you are in your car, or when you talk to an intelligent system on your phone, or when you ask your camera a question. Joy concedes that this Web does not yet fully exist.
5. B2B. This is an Internet which does not possess a consumer interface, where business machines talk to other business machines. It is chatter of corporations amongst themselves when they do not care about their human drones.
6. D2D. This is the Internet of sensors deployed in meshes networks, adjusting urban systems for maximum efficiency. This Web also does not yet exist. Joy says that it will embed machine intelligence in ordinary, daily life.
Joy concludes by saying that, of all six Webs, number 2 - “the Here Web” - is by far the most interesting and productive of new innovations.
Incidentally, in person, Bill Joy’s affect is remarkably like Jeff Goldblum’s performance of Seth Brundel in The Fly.