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Tim Berners-Lee Announces Web Science Initiative

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the two-great-tastes-go-great-together dept.

73

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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I'm sure he did. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16692827)

How useless. Is there really a need for this?

Re:I'm sure he did. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16694667)

How useless. Is there really a need for this?

I asked myself the same question. We have the featurefull and standards-compliant IE7 and the fast and efficient Opera. Who would need a bloated piece of unconforming shit like Firefox? Only the worst of the FOSS-monkeys, and even they are fooled by Mozilla Foundation with their dual-licensed stolen code.

Re:I'm sure he did. (1)

pacalis (970205) | more than 7 years ago | (#16695859)

Oh yes, there is a need for this!! Maybe he can publish this path breaking idea in an top CS/IS journal? Lord knows, no one has thought of this before. Which is especially strange given how many people read Simon's Sciences of the Artificial. The 'Information Science' and 'Design Science' folks will get even more from this.

Lemme guess (2, Funny)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 7 years ago | (#16692829)

Semantic web 2.0?

Re:Lemme guess (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16692997)

This sounds like every application for grant money I've ever seen...the politics of dancing (around naked in tons of investment capital).

Re:Lemme guess (1)

Fozzyuw (950608) | more than 7 years ago | (#16693891)

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

A Bionic Web? (1)

JLavezzo (161308) | more than 7 years ago | (#16692861)

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...

Re:A Bionic Web? (1)

gt_mattex (1016103) | more than 7 years ago | (#16693135)

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

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

already on Digg.com (1)

TheDoctorWho (858166) | more than 7 years ago | (#16692875)

and already off the front page of digg.com /., less and less worthy of just about anything......

Tim Berners-Lee (1)

Fuckin ROBOTS! (999276) | more than 7 years ago | (#16692899)

LOL - Who?

Re:Tim Berners-Lee (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16695249)

LOL - a right nobody, check it out. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tim_Berners-Lee [wikipedia.org]

Web Science + Web 2.0 = Nothing New? (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#16692955)

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.

Re:Web Science + Web 2.0 = Nothing New? (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 7 years ago | (#16693041)

you mean like.....

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

Nahh, they will never do something like that.

Re:Web Science + Web 2.0 = Nothing New? (1)

Opie812 (582663) | more than 7 years ago | (#16694253)

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)

Cut scenes (2)

Spazmania (174582) | more than 7 years ago | (#16692979)

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?

Re:Cut scenes (2, Insightful)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 7 years ago | (#16693345)

this may end up being the most worthwhile post in this thread.

Re:Cut scenes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16693535)

Or on the entire site.

I think the genius is in its portability, like how Java was supposed to work. You could post that comment in any story on the front page today and it would make just as much sense and be just as relevant.

Re:Cut scenes (1)

Spazmania (174582) | more than 7 years ago | (#16695451)

Yeah, I deserve an "off topic" for that one. I posted it to the wrong story...

Should be "Internet Scicence," if anything... (2, Insightful)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#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!

Re:Should be "Internet Scicence," if anything... (1)

eipgam (945201) | more than 7 years ago | (#16694819)

Yeah, because we all know that those things have no impact on the way we use the web...

Re:Should be "Internet Scicence," if anything... (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#16705423)

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).

Re:Should be "Internet Scicence," if anything... (1)

eipgam (945201) | more than 7 years ago | (#16716569)

Point taken - particularly re. Usenet/IRC.

Re:Should be "Internet Scicence," if anything... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16696411)

Google for the "Association of Internet Researchers".... ;)

A social science, perhaps (1)

Metasquares (555685) | more than 7 years ago | (#16693027)

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.

Re:A social science, perhaps (1)

jackjumper (307961) | more than 7 years ago | (#16693095)

Sociology: Anthropology for white people.

Re:A social science, perhaps (1)

brusk (135896) | more than 7 years ago | (#16693457)

More completely:

Sociology: Jews studying gentiles.

Anthropology: Christians studying heathens.

Re:A social science, perhaps (1)

deadsmith (723365) | more than 7 years ago | (#16694737)

see berkeley's citris program. http://www.citris-uc.org/ [citris-uc.org]

Re:A social science, perhaps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16696631)

It does exist already. [berkeley.edu]

Experts (0)

SCPRedMage (838040) | more than 7 years ago | (#16693165)

I'm sure Spider Man is standing by to lend his expert knowledge in to field of webology.

Frankly... (2, Interesting)

eno2001 (527078) | more than 7 years ago | (#16693205)

...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:Frankly... (2, Interesting)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 7 years ago | (#16695425)

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/Image:Jet%C3%A9_-_Sta tue_by_Enzo_Plazzotta_-_Millbank_-_Westminster_-_L ondon_-_240404.jpg [wikipedia.org]

or:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Sistine.chapel. entire.500pix.jpg [wikipedia.org]

Re:Frankly... (1)

DataSurge (953063) | more than 7 years ago | (#16696549)

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.

Re:Frankly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16696777)

Have you looked at Croquet [opencroquet.org] ? Granted, it is currently just a tech-demo, but it has enormous potential.

Re:Frankly... (1)

zobier (585066) | more than 7 years ago | (#16699379)

[...] 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 (2, Insightful)

TheGreatOrangePeel (618581) | more than 7 years ago | (#16693253)

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

Translation: Watching people watching porn.

Re:Translated (1)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 7 years ago | (#16693491)

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".

Social "science" (1)

Baldrson (78598) | more than 7 years ago | (#16693329)

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.

Re:Social "science" (1)

psykocrime (61037) | more than 7 years ago | (#16693973)

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.

Re:Social "science" (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#16695221)

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 further complicated by the fact that lots of people have vested interests in spreading ideas about the subject matter of social science, and try to disguise propaganda and social science? Sure.

But does any of that stop the social sciences from being real sciences? No. It just means that the reader of material in the social sciences is forced to read more critically. But that's what people reading in the sciences generally should be doing, not simply taking claims on faith and personal authority.

Re:Social "science" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16698307)

Posters really should be familiar with areas they are criticizing before throwing around comments like "social science isn't a science."

Wilson's Consilience asks for unified theories rather than developing one set of theories for use with entities on the micro level and a completely different set of theories at the macro level.

Physics, as an example, is as far from having a single theory of behavior (ie, string theory is not working out, and we're stuck with particle and newtonian physics) as social sciences are. Cognitive Neurosciences are closing the gap between biology and behavior, and specifically Neuroeconomics are making huge strides in using biology to explain sociological behavior.

So, rather than posting about Consilience, I would personally choose to read it.

Summary (1)

Plutonite (999141) | more than 7 years ago | (#16693381)

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?

Sociology? (1)

_bug_ (112702) | more than 7 years ago | (#16693411)

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 little bit narrow.

He also said (0)

Van Cutter Romney (973766) | more than 7 years ago | (#16693419)

Lee also said that afraid the Net could be used to spread "misinformation and "undemocratic forces".

'undemocratic'?? They very fact that it can send misinformation makes it very democratic. Look at politicians in a democracy for example...

This was the scariest part., to me (1)

blueZ3 (744446) | more than 7 years ago | (#16693957)

Here's this scientist with a lot of credibility among the most technically minded of politicians, essentially saying "the free exchange of ideas is dangerous" -- I wonder who Sir Tim sees as the arbiter between what is "disinformation" and what is fact, and between what is dissent and "undemocratic forces." I, for one, do NOT welcome our new MiniTruth overlords.

No thanks, Mr Lee. I want my Internet free from ANY censorship. Good intentions be damned; I don't trust you any more the GWB.

So he wants to create an Open-Google ? (1)

franois-do (547649) | more than 7 years ago | (#16693473)

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 ?

Re:So he wants to create an Open-Google ? (1)

Adam Hazzlebank (970369) | more than 7 years ago | (#16694831)

Where was the stuff about creating an open-google? I didn't see anything like that.

Re:So he wants to create an Open-Google ? (1)

franois-do (547649) | more than 7 years ago | (#16695645)

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, though some will be more efficient than others).

Personally.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16693499)

Personally I expect to see something quite interesting to come out of this. Besides, Sir Tim was one of the major blokes behind the current WWW.

At least give him/them a chance....

FIGRST (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16693509)

My real question is (1)

Knara (9377) | more than 7 years ago | (#16693553)

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?

Re:My real question is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16693747)

Evidently, you have yet to come across porn.

Re:My real question is (1)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 7 years ago | (#16700115)

Desensitized to everything?
What became of subtlety?

TBL (2, Insightful)

johansalk (818687) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:TBL (1)

hritcu (871613) | more than 7 years ago | (#16694767)

You are right, it seems to me that he is pushing the W3C in all but the right direction. I especially dislike his Semantic Wet Dreams [wordpress.com]

We need a few more wikis or what's next. (2, Insightful)

kabocox (199019) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:We need a few more wikis or what's next. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16695849)

It is called 'Usenet'.

Re:We need a few more wikis or what's next. (1)

lavaface (685630) | more than 7 years ago | (#16701249)

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. Developing social trust networks. In my opinion, the XDI initiative seems to cover the next generation of identity solutions that would make this work optimally. Here's a good article [planetwork.net] explaining the protocol. Ironically, the w3c declined to work with the xdi folks, preferring to use existing protocols/hacks.

tagging is another important component of what i'm sure some genius will call web 3.0 in a couple of years. rss will also be integral. ultimately, as natural language processing improves, the way we will be able to search and organize data will be vastly improved. imagine being able to subscribe to feeds of searches based on criteria like reputation! it's an interesting field but it's late now . . .

If you are interested in the back-story (1)

netbuzz (955038) | more than 7 years ago | (#16694629)

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]

me am not smart, me not know web 0.2 (1)

monkeyboythom (796957) | more than 7 years ago | (#16695257)

So by Monday, the Univ of Phoenix will have the PhD degree ready for me to print out?

Instant grant oh yes (1)

mgabrys_sf (951552) | more than 7 years ago | (#16695487)

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.

frost piSt? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16695539)

More staBle

spongE (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16695671)

the most. Look at hot on the hhels of rivalry, and we'll it a break, if

WATCH OUT - 'a new Web, a better Web' (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 7 years ago | (#16695697)

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.

sGhit! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16697211)

Don't walk around up today! If you about outside Wash off hands /could save it same year, BSD is part of the outstrips To decline for Eyes on the real Don't feel 7hat You don't need to you get distracted of Walnut Creek, in a head spinning

fagoRz (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16697299)

about Ou7side

End the horror! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16697611)

It's time for Dr Franken-Lee to fess up: his Rocky Horror Web experiment was a monstrous mistake!

Unleash the hidden self-destruct code in HTML 1.0 and let your billion zombies reclaim their lives... before we march on W3C with flaming torches!

Continuation of article (1)

justanillusion (1021975) | more than 7 years ago | (#16698373)

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-Lee went on to comment, with a slight chuckle.

Well... (1)

sootman (158191) | more than 7 years ago | (#16699407)

the Web Porn initiative has worked out amazingly well. Good to see him moving on to new challenges.

Tim Lee getting into science? About damn time! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16700371)

The EU taxpayers have been bankrolling his supercolliding scientific ass since the nineties, but oh no, Mr Lee had to invent the interweb first and produced no science to speak of. About damn time he did something useful with his fancy-pancy Ph.D., then.

Standard tags for database access (1)

wysiwia (932559) | more than 7 years ago | (#16700519)

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 (INSERT, UPDATE) some content in a database. In 95% there's no need for more functionality, so if theses simple statements were available as HTML tags there would be no need for scripts.

O. Wyss

Re:Standard tags for database access (1)

frenchbedroom (936100) | more than 7 years ago | (#16702521)

What you're describing seems to me like creating a _freaking_ _gaping_ _security_ hole in every database connected to a web server.

Sound familiar? (1)

matterbury (1022095) | more than 7 years ago | (#16700807)

How long until TBL changes his name to "The Mule"? :-)

Web 3.0 Might be Just Around the Corner ... (1)

flnca (1022891) | more than 7 years ago | (#16721399)

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?
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