The University of Southampton

Web inventor testifies to US Congress on future of World Wide Web

1 March 2007

Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web and Professor of Computer Science in ECS, is today (1 March) testifying on the future of the Web before the committee of the US House of Representatives that has jurisdiction over the Internet.

Professor Sir Tim Berners-Lee said today that although the evolution of the Web has been gratifying, it is by no means finished:

'The Web, and everything which happens on it, rest on two things: technological protocols, and social conventions,' he said. 'The technological protocols, like HTTP and HTML, determine how computers interact. Social conventions, such as the incentive to make links to valuable resources, or the rules of engagement in a social networking web site, are about how people like to, and are allowed to, interact.

'As the Web passes through its first decade of widespread use, we still know surprisingly little about these complex technical and social mechanisms. We have only scratched the surface of what could be realized with deeper scientific investigation into its design, operation and impact on society. Robust technical design, innovative business decisions, and sound public policy judgment all require that we are aware of the complex interactions between technology and society. We call this awareness Web Science: the science and engineering of this massive system for the common good.

In order to galvanize Web Science research and education efforts, MIT and the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom have created the Web Science Research Initiative. In concert with an international Scientific Advisory Council of distinguished computer scientists, social scientists, and legal scholars, WSRI will help create an intellectual foundations, educational atmosphere, and resource base to allow researchers to take the Web seriously as an object of scientific enquiry and engineering innovation.'

The Founding Directors of WSRI, alongside Tim Berners-Lee, are: Professor Wendy Hall and Professor Nigel Shadbolt of the School of Electronics and Computer Science, Southampton, and Daniel J. Weitzner of MIT.

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