Monday, November 06, 2006

New field of "Web Science"

From an article today in the New York Times:

The Web has become such a force in commerce and culture that a group of leading university researchers now deems it worthy of its own field of study.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Southampton in Britain plan to announce today that they are starting a joint research program in Web science.

Tim Berners-Lee, who invented the Web’s basic software, is leading the program. An Oxford-educated Englishman, Mr. Berners-Lee is a senior researcher at M.I.T., a professor at the University of Southampton and the director of the World Wide Web Consortium, an Internet standards-setting organization.

Web science, the researchers say, has social and engineering dimensions. It extends well beyond traditional computer science, they say, to include the emerging research in social networks and the social sciences that is being used to study how people behave on the Web. And Web science, they add, shifts the center of gravity in engineering research from how a single computer works to how huge decentralized Web systems work.

“The Web isn’t about what you can do with computers,” Mr. Berners-Lee said. “It’s people and, yes, they are connected by computers. But computer science, as the study of what happens in a computer, doesn’t tell you about what happens on the Web.”

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