I want to quote from the homepage of the Web Science Research Initiative (WSRI), a joint endeavour of MIT and University of Southampton:
‘The Web is the largest human information construct in history. The Web is transforming society. In order to understand what the Web is, engineer its future and ensure its social benefit we need a new interdisciplinary field that we call Web Science. The Web Science Research Initiative brings together academics, scientists, sociologists, entrepreneurs and decision makers from around the world. These people will create the first multidisciplinary research body to examine the World Wide Web and offer the practical solutions needed to help guide its future use and design.’
I hope this has whetted your appetite to read a little more!
With thanks to Phil Tetlow I had the privilege of being part of yesterday’s discussion about Web Science. As you’d expect, some of the Web’s world experts were present. But what was most extraordinary was the diversity of representation of leading figures from ‘non-technology’ fields and the common ground that was generated. This bbc report sums events up rather neatly.
If, like me, you’ve had a growing feeling for some time that the Web has changed everything and that the skills required today to generate insights and achieve business, government and societal goals can no longer be considered from the specialist perspective alone, this WSRI Web Science ‘colliding perspectives’ picture might be a little of what you’ve been waiting for:
There’s a lot to this inherently, and if there’s a good place to start to get a hint from the perspective of where the IT profession might be going – or perhaps more accurately where a number of ‘doing useful stuff in business’ professions might be going – this could be it. What’s really fascinating about this I think is that we’re finally using the biggest example of world wide deployed IT to discover more about both people and technology, and the socio-technical convergence we’re all part of.
It’s for sure a journey of discovery – but my bet is on insights of real value to business and government emerging sooner rather than later.