Wednesday, 9 July 2008

The future of the Web

Yesterday I was fortunate to be at a London event where Sir Tim Berners-Lee was presenting and discussing his initiative for web science (WSRI) alongside the folk that run NESTA.  Since Tim invented the Web, it has grown into an incredible successful overlay of the Internet.  It has brought the internet's reach and the information distributed across it to the masses across every continent.  It has changed the world, but is still in its infancy and has a huge potential to change much more yet.  But there is a need to understand more about the science of this thing that we have created.  The web fundamentally connects people using simple clicks across cyberspace, abstracting away from the complexity of the network and computer infrastructure that underpins it.  

One of the key aspects of the web is the varied scale of the communities that it supports.  There are an incredible number of small scale communities that have a common interest.  There are a small number of very large scale communities supported.  It is those of the middle scale that have the potential to make most impact on the way people do things, i.e. social change.  

Web science addresses not just technology issues but also social issues.  I look forward to the products of the web science research initiative that will help take our understanding of this remarkable invention to a new level in the future.

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