University of Southampton professor Nigel Shadbolt, speaking at a recent conference on the emerging discipline of Web science, says the Internet has become such an important technology that it needs its own field of study. Web science needs researchers from a wide range of backgrounds to assess the technical, social, legal, and political forces that are impacting the Web, Shadbolt says. He will co-direct, with Web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee, a new Institute of Web Science at Southampton in collaboration with the University of Oxford.
According to Jim Hendler of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, which recently began offering the first undergraduate degree in Web science in the United States, Web science research could be used to quickly model the impact of new technologies. Although there is a financial incentive to understanding and exploiting the Web, Hendler also believes the Web should be studied for its own sake. "A more neutral, scientific view is needed if we are to understand this important force in our society and make sure it provides the services we need," Hendler says.
From New Scientist
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