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Tim Berners-Lee Announces Web Science Initiative 73

Posted by Zonk
from the two-great-tastes-go-great-together dept.
ReadWriteWeb writes "MIT and the University of Southampton in Britain have announced an initiative called Web Science. Tim Berners-Lee is leading the program, which is essentially about formalizing a new kind of scientific discipline. The goal is to understand the deeper structure of the social Web and how people are using it. But as well as studying the Web, they also hope to shape the future of the Web. In the conference call this morning, Tim Berners-Lee spoke about how Web Science will help build 'a new Web, a better Web, building things on top of the Web infrastructure.' He said they'll be 'developing new ways of analyzing things and we'll be building systems which have completely new properties'. But he made a point of saying that because the Web is about people, social aspects will be a very important part of it."
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Tim Berners-Lee Announces Web Science Initiative

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  • Lemme guess (Score:3, Funny)

    by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Thursday November 02, 2006 @03:21PM (#16692829)
    Semantic web 2.0?
    • by Fozzyuw (950608)

      Hey, maybe they can make it a Foreign language credit as well! Parlez-vous Web?

  • will help build 'a new Web, a better Web, building things on top of the Web infrastructure'.


    Gentlemen, we can rebuild it. We have the technology. We can make it stronger...

    • Tim Berners-Lee: Porn this is all for you! A better, stronger you!

      Porn: Thank you Tim, you may thoroughly enjoy me now.

  • You have to wonder how long it will be before Web Science and Web 2.0 morph into another fancy catch word for a new and improved web user experience that doesn't really change anything. Sounds like a conspiracy to sell over-priced door stoppers that's recycling material and ideas that been around in previous book editions instead of coming up with something new under the sun.
    • by Lumpy (12016)
      you mean like.....

      WEB XP! formerly known as WEB 3.0 with net accelerator.

      Nahh, they will never do something like that.
    • by Opie812 (582663)
      You have to wonder how long it will be before Web Science and Web 2.0 morph into another fancy catch word

      I heard it was supposed to be Web 3.0, but there were a lot of bugs in it so it became 3.1. However, they screwed up the networking so the fix to that was known as Web 3.11....

      ...or something like that (but funnier)
  • by Spazmania (174582) on Thursday November 02, 2006 @03:29PM (#16692979) Homepage
    Here's the problem with cut-scenes:

    A 90-minute cut-scene (aka a movie) costs $7 to watch and $20 to own.

    Why would I go to a computer store and pay $40 for it?

  • by mrchaotica (681592) * on Thursday November 02, 2006 @03:31PM (#16693007)

    ...considering that half the interesting stuff they would want to study (e.g. email, IM, RSS, etc.) has nothing to do with the "Web" (i.e., HTTP) anyway!

    • by eipgam (945201)
      Yeah, because we all know that those things have no impact on the way we use the web...
      • My point was that making it HTTP-centric is a myopic way of looking at it. Besides, thinking that way perpetuates the making of bastardized web-based replacements for other services (e.g. web-page-based forums and chatrooms, which ought to just be on Usenet and IRC, respectively).

  • From what I've read, this may qualify as a type of social science, though I don't understand why there isn't an interdisciplinary sociology / IT research area to cover this sort of thing already.

    This should not be billed as either a natural or information science, however, as it is neither.
  • Frankly... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by eno2001 (527078) on Thursday November 02, 2006 @03:44PM (#16693205) Homepage Journal
    ...I really don't like the web in it's current form. Even with all the Web 2.0 crap, it's still too slow, too restrictive from both a design and content angle and too mired in the original foundations of markup languages. What is needed is actually a new computing platform that is Internet-centric, but not bound by OS, or computer language limitations. Content design should be more of an intuitive and artistic/creative activity instead of mostly a technical one. Take Flash for example. Flash is not something that a kid can pick up and use to create content like they can with crayons and paper, or sitting down at a piano. Even though you can make some really nice looking things with Flash, it still highly restrictive in terms of point of entry for a non-technical person. And in all honesty the most creative and artistic people are not techincally inclined. Those who happen to be gifted with technical ability and true creativity are rare. And those who THINK they are creative or artistic but really aren't are all too common. However, I'm also a realist and know that the web is here to stay. This seems to have something to do with humans always going with the lowest quality products and services simply because of low cost. In this case the "low cost" is the familiarity of the web.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      What is needed is actually a new computing platform that is Internet-centric, but not bound by OS, or computer language limitations.

      That sounds like my brain.

      And in all honesty the most creative and artistic people are not techincally inclined.

      Phooey. The process of creation of art requires mastery of a craft. The most creative people in human history often mastered a very technical craft in order to create their works.

      Which do you think is easier - a Flash animation, or this:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Im [wikipedia.org]
    • by DataSurge (953063)
      There is of course a lot we can still do with the web. For starters, make all the text interactive, not just the special, hand-picked hyperlinks. By turning all the words on the web into hyperwords for example: http://www.hyperwords.net/ [hyperwords.net] - not high tech, but again, there is a lot we can do to make the web more interactive and useful before we need to start changing it structurally.
    • by zobier (585066)
      [...] in all honesty the most creative and artistic people are not techincally inclined. Those who happen to be gifted with technical ability and true creativity are rare.
      I happen to know quite a few ppl who are good at both, they're not as rare as you think.
  • Translated (Score:2, Insightful)

    The goal is to understand the deeper structure of the social Web and how people are using it.

    Translation: Watching people watching porn.

    • by mapkinase (958129)
      I understand your concern that a major portion of links in the social web would be of "noise", "low-entropy", "meaningful", but that happens to a lot of graph analysis applications. Take, for example, protein-protein interactions in the cell. There are lot of hubs that do not mean much in terms of cellular pathways, but if you skillfully subtract them you get meaningful results.

      That is why it is "Web science", not "Web statistics".
  • When Social "science" becomes a science it might be possible to talk about web "science" as a cross discipline. Unfortunately, social science isn't a science.

    Maybe Sir Tim could read E. O. Wilson's "Consilience" [wikipedia.org] for a start so he can get a grip.

    • by psykocrime (61037)
      Or he could read A Beautiful Math [amazon.com] and see that there has been a lot of progress in finding
      a mathematical / scientific basis for "social" sciences; specifically in terms of game theory.

      No, it doesn't claim that sociology can be treated like, say physics, at least not yet. But some interesting patterns
      have started to emerge relating game theory and many other fields, including sociology.
    • When Social "science" becomes a science it might be possible to talk about web "science" as a cross discipline. Unfortunately, social science isn't a science.

      Social science may not be a single science, but its certainly a broad category of empirical science.

      Is there bad, nonscientific work going on the social sciences? Yes, as there is in other sciences. Is work in the social sciences hard because it relies very often on statistical controls rather than laboratory-style absolute control? Sure. Is that furth

  • developing new ways of analyzing things and we'll be building systems which have completely new properties

    ??

    Analyzing things? Properties? I didn't think advances in AI had anything to do with networking, and I didn't know MIT wastes time like this. Big names are very nice, but what exactly is this thing?
  • Sounds like this is more a concentration of sociology than a new science. Furthermore I don't think this "science" is going to prove much we don't already know. The web is just another means of communication through which millions of different communities have been built upon.

    Furthermore I think it's needlessly focused on "web". It should be "Internet" not "web". There are many more social networks in non-web environments like MMORPGs, or IRC, or newsgroups, etc..

    To be honest this initiative comes off a lit
  • I wonder if Google people do not already know where they want it to go, and have begun doing it without creating committees or anything. Did not Winston Churchill say in his time that a camel was a horse designed by a committee ?

    • Where was the stuff about creating an open-google? I didn't see anything like that.
      • The idea is that the Google team seems to have its own idea of what is good for him and the Internet, just as any hardware or software vendor (think about the success of Adobe's PDF).

        Experience shows that such standards become open some day or disappear, and in fact they sometime do both (for instance the token-ring technology, or Netscape as a company).

        I was refering to the Google team and set of ideas and not specifically to the Google search engine (everybody knows how to build a search engine, thou

  • Will this make the Net fun to explore again? It used to be interesting to surf around and see what weirdness or coolness you could find. Now it's kind of boring. Or am I the only one who feels this way?
  • TBL (Score:3, Insightful)

    by johansalk (818687) on Thursday November 02, 2006 @04:24PM (#16693809)
    TBL is a great guy and all, but his "invention" is now way too large with too many involved for its "inventor" to remain relevant. I doubt that anything he says or does now can matter much. He needs to let go of this altruistic visionary role. I wish he had cashed out somehow. Maybe had he learnt PHP and made a popular website.
  • by kabocox (199019) on Thursday November 02, 2006 @04:50PM (#16694299)
    I love wikipedia and get alot of useful information from it. This morning while reading about an intel folks using a wiki for classified info, brought me the idea of wiki-rumor-pedia. I said that it's just a matter of time till some one does it. An AC posted a comment that CIC in SnowCrash would fit my description. I had to look that up since I've not read SnowCrash yet. The CIC seems a bit more evolved than what I'm thinking. It's like the 3rd or 4th big evolution after wikis.

    We need an active science wiki that can do most of our present science journal things cheaper, easier and more widespread. You'd need to have every step of all our current science processes involved in this. Esp. getting writing or submitted papers, abstracts and raw data as requirements for governmental funding. It needs to be scalable so that everyone from professors, grad students, lab techs, junior high science teachers, and students from K-PH level can search active science projects, attempt to repeat a science project as part of a class assignment, areas for teacher/professor grading with comments, peer review from others of the same educational/age level. Basically make one place where those of every branch of knowledge dump and review their knowledge and for our students to review it and learn from it.
    • by lavaface (685630)
      you may be interested in the nooron [slashdot.org] project. I came across nooron several years ago thinking along the same lines as you. if you read the paper "how to build a global brain" on the site you'll get an idea of the scope of this project. it looks like it may no longer be under active development. I called the creator, Shawn Murphy up sometime in 2003-4(?) to discuss the project. it seemed to fit an important niche--basically taking ideas like the recommendation system in amazon & "rate this seller" in ebay
  • This blog entry from yesterday includes links to Berners-Lee's past writings on the subject, as well as a summary from an '05 meeting of the minds in London at which this effort was apparently first kicked around.

    http://www.networkworld.com/community/?q=node/9103 [networkworld.com]
  • So by Monday, the Univ of Phoenix will have the PhD degree ready for me to print out?
  • I propose a Web PRON initiative.

    Funds required for subscriptions and lots of lube.

    It'll be a long hard research project, but I'm not afraid to get my hands dirty. I'll be pulling as much data as possible and putting it all out there for everyone.

    Send your contributions in a plain brown bag to behind the water pipe - men's room - Grand Central Station, NYC. Thank you.
  • This phrase has been used before to develop information and methods that helped interest groups, big capital, governments to manipulate and dominate public.

    it always go with the bait "better" word.

    In this context it will provide an understanding of how the web is, so that some can manipulate the web to their own profit.

    NOONE needs anyone to build a 'better' web. THE WEB builds itself, it is an entity... and its free.
  • When questioned about the specifics of his study, Mr. Berners-Lee stated, "Are we off the record? For a first phase, what we're actually trying to measure is the average effect on unsuspecting volunteers when we confine them for several hours in a room with a projector displaying various web experiences." The list of "web experiences", according to MIT, is not yet finalized, but is rumored to contain hamsterdance.com, neuticles, and, of course, MySpace. "The walls of the room are well padded," Mr. Berners-L
  • the Web Porn initiative has worked out amazingly well. Good to see him moving on to new challenges.
  • I don't clearly understand what Tim Berners-Lee is up to yet I know what's missing in the standards and that's database tags. Most pages in the web currently either use static content (texts, images, etc) or dynamic content loaded from a database. While static content can easily be formulate with HTML dynamic content can't. There's always the need for either PHP, Perl, Python, etc together with Java script. Yet most database access is simply retrieving (SELECT, FETCH) some content from a database or change
    • What you're describing seems to me like creating a _freaking_ _gaping_ _security_ hole in every database connected to a web server.
  • How long until TBL changes his name to "The Mule"? :-)
  • If you thought, the whole "Web 2.0" was just a marketing ploy, check out this item: http://www.ekkehardmorgenstern.de/web3.0.txt [ekkehardmorgenstern.de] What if there was an all-integrating OS that would allow seamless interoperability across networks?

Disobedience: The silver lining to the cloud of servitude. -- Ambrose Bierce

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