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What next for Web Science?

Watch Prof Dame Wendy Hall & Prof Sir Nigel Shadbolt share their vision of how they think Web Science will evolve as a discipline in the near future.
SIR NIGEL SHADBOLT: So the Web I would like to see is a Web that I do experience. I think we all take from the Web those aspects we find delightful and surprising, that we find challenging and rewarding. And I think one of the things that people often do in criticising or misunderstanding the Web is imagine that it’s one big uniform experience, and what it is– it’s many different experiences. Everybody experiences the Web differently.
DAME WENDY HALL: As we look forward, in 5 or 10 years’ time, I’d like the Web to be there. It’s a very emergent and new technology in the scheme of civilisation and the evolution of information systems. There’s many different ways in which the Web could fragment, and then it would potentially die. And it’s so important that we keep the principles on which it was founded– Tim’s basic principles– where it was open and it was free to use and it was ubiquitous globally. And that’s what makes it work. And if you break any of those, our hypothesis would be you potentially break the Web.
SIR NIGEL SHADBOLT: So the Web just won’t be people and documents and their data. It will be everything from your fridge to your kettle. They will all have a Web address, and there’ll be something that they’re emitting or collecting that will provide you with a slightly different view than you’ve had before.
DAME WENDY HALL: At the moment, our concern– our focus is very much on what’s happening with data. The world is about big data, open data, linked data. So in five years’ time, that will be playing out. And the Web will be more “intelligent.” Machines can make inferences about the relationships between data so that, when you ask a question, you get an answer back rather than a list of links.
SIR NIGEL SHADBOLT: And that kind of support structure is going to be a big part of the Web of the future.
SIR NIGEL SHADBOLT: One of the reasons that we are so passionate and excited about Web science is that we see there’s an absolute need to understand this system– how it’s evolving, how we affect it, and it affects us.
DAME WENDY HALL: What has happened with the Web is an experiment we can’t rerun. We can’t unknow what we know now about having a global information system.
SIR NIGEL SHADBOLT: It’s a system that emerges at this global scale of collaboration and cooperation, and we have an absolute duty to try and understand it.
DAME WENDY HALL: And we don’t know enough about how the Web evolved to be able to say categorically yes, do this or do that. And again, I’ll say that’s why I think Web science is so important as a discipline going forward because we’re training people to understand these issues and to be able to balance one scenario against another.
SIR NIGEL SHADBOLT: So the Web will constantly surprise us, and the important thing for Web science is that we generate a next generation of researchers, of people who understand, are informed, and intrigued by what the Web is and what it will become.

The Web we have now would have astonished Web users from 10 years ago; how will we be astonished in 10 years’ time?

Leading academics Professor Dame Wendy Hall and Professor Sir Nigel Shadbolt share their vision of how they think Web Science will be evolving as a discipline in the near future.

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Web Science: How the Web Is Changing the World

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