[Viewpoint] Government in the age of Web 3.0

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[Viewpoint] Government in the age of Web 3.0

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the introduction of the Internet in Korea. Just as mountains and rivers can change in a decade, cyberspace has transformed over the last 30 years. The information revolution, digitalization and waves of mobilization came in every decade, and the changes are in progress even today.

In the 1980s, the government declared that Korea may have been late to industrialize but should be the first to become an information society, building solid infrastructure for information technology.

Thanks to the venture boom and competition of the market economy, digitalization was attained easily as well. The smartphone wave, symbolized by Apple’s iPhone, came in 2008, just in time for the inauguration of the new administration, and mobile communication is an ongoing movement that will grow more powerful.

The Internet structure and IT industry have gone through tremendous changes. Web 1.0, the early stage of the Internet, focused on how to find information in cyberspace. Yahoo! and other search engines were born, and Microsoft monopolized the operating system that linked personal computers to the Internet.

As the dot-com bubble burst worldwide, Web 2.0 appeared, and the zeitgeists were sharing, participation and openness. The timing coincided with the launch of the “participatory government” of Roh Moo-hyun.

Instead of simply viewing official Web sites, people wrote their stories on blogs, collectively contributed knowledge on Wikipedia, shared and viewed videos on YouTube, and expressed their opinions through replies and comments. Instead of passively searching for information, the users openly shared personal information and made friends with strangers in a new form of business called social networking services. In the public sector, e-government models enhanced the transparency of national administration.

Now we are talking about Web 3.0. It will involve the waves of change to provide personalized and customized services anytime, anywhere based on the intelligent Internet, using massive data resources. The Internet podcast “I am a Petty-Minded Creep” used the one-way broadcasting format of Web 1.0, integrated the participation and openness of Web 2.0, and added the spirit of Web 3.0 by targeting the network generation. However, the radio address of the president continuously relied on the communication format of Web 1.0 and failed to attract much attention.

The conventional mind-set cannot win the hearts of the consumers in the global market or the voters in the presidential election. Having the Web 3.0-style vision and challenge is not so hard. We just haven’t started to fully develop our own potential in information technology.

Korea is the only country among the member countries of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development where medical information of 45 million people is managed by a single agency. Korea is also the only country to have all secondary school textbooks and major references in a digital format. Also, Korea is the only country in the world to ever attempt to build a futuristic IT-based town with a population of one million.

Instead of giving just the resident registration number upon birth, Koreans may be given an Internet identification code. When the medical and genetic information is managed in a national database and the government provides regular medical checkups every five to 10 years to prevent and diagnose diseases, Korea will not only be able to provide customized medical benefits but also save a tremendous amount on medical costs.

Smart electronic devices enable students to receive customized education, and the world-class e-government system can provide public information to various start-ups and businesses. Korea may also be able to export a customized smart city to the Middle East. The age of Web 3.0 opens up great markets and opportunities for Korea.

If you break out of the Web 1.0 mind-set that people take whatever the government provides, you will be able to understand the spirit of the IT age.

Translation by the Korea JoongAng Daily staff.

*The author, a former head of the Korea Information Society Development Institute, is a professor of law at Hongik University.
By Bang Suk-ho

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