The Fundamentals of the Web, the Importance of Web Science - Les Carr
The Fundamentals of the Web, the Importance of Web Science LA Carr University of Southampton, UK
Introduc9on Web Science is the study of the technologies and policies that support the co-‐construc7on of a linked online environment by a networked society. • The Web is not a thing – It is a verb, not a noun. A performance, not an object. • The Web wasn’t just invented by Tim Berners-‐Lee – It was co-‐constructed with society • The Web didn’t just appear out of nothing – It was just the latest proposal for scaling communica9on • Hence we can’t take it for granted. We need to study it and understand it to retain its desirable features.
The Web is a Performance… Create a Contribute The middle homepage to a Publish a space genome paper Edit a represents the Communi7es wikipedia ac7vity of entry individuals Special Individuals (poten7ally Interest Companies ac7ng in Groups HTTP URIs concert) who create Society Servers interlinked Caches resources that Ins7tu7ons Web both reﬂect and reinforce the Government Architecture interlinkedness of society and HTML RDF social Browsers (economic, Blog Tweet legal, personal) Place a interac7on. Update bid at an Make a …and a record of Facebook YouTube video aucBon response that performance
Performing on the Web • It’s something we do, not a product we buy ✗ Informa9on and Communica9on Technology ü Informing and Communica9ng Technology Wikipedia – new knowledge is edited Academia – new knowledge is created and managed on the web through privately and some9mes presented on processes that are discussed and the Web. Centuries-‐old processes and managed through the Web. Wikipedia values pre-‐exist in academic only exists because of the wikipedia organisa9ons and are re-‐interpreted community; the wikipedia community for the prevailing technology. only exists because of the Web. Both are a linked resource with an Diﬀerent parts of society have diﬀerent emerging set of values and standards. needs to communicate for diﬀerent ends.
Academics and the Web sustainability accountability & auditability distrust SCIENTIFIC & technology aﬀordances SCHOLARLY business interests scien9ﬁc data mining COMMS status quo high moral ground more web, increasing openness • Open Access, Open Data, Open Educa9onal Resources – Web Technology joins the High Moral Ground • vs the established economic model for ensuring con9nuity of informa9on produc9on – trading of privately held informa9on through subscrip9on products such as journals or magazines
Society is Diverse InsBtuBon ObjecBve Commerce Academy Create and transmit Academy knowledge Commerce Trade goods Press Government Society Press Report news Media Broadcast content Media Military Defend society Military Government Control society & share resources The development of society as a whole (nuanced and structured and reﬁned) is inextricably related to the technology of informa9on provision, consump9on and dissemina9on (e.g. wri9ng, reading, prin9ng, educa9on). Diﬀerent parts of society have diﬀerent objec7ves and hence incompa7ble Web requirements, e.g. openness, security, transparency, privacy.
ICT designs from the last century Sponsor System Scope Real Date Important ProperBes Press Reuters Professional, ✔ 1850 News & stock informa9on (originally carrier pigeon and centralised subsequently telegraph) Private Mundaneum Public, centralised ✔ 1920 Based on indexing technology (the library card) Ins9tu9on Military Memex Scholarly, individual, ✗ 1945 Aimed at Scien9sts and Technologists in WWII centralised Media Xanadu Public, decentralised ✗ 1960 Focused on DRM, reuse and wri9ng for “crea9ves” Media CEEFAX Public, na9onal, ✔ 1970 Broadcast, linked, not par9cipatory centralised Government Minitel Public, na9onal, ✔ 1980 Commercial services and informa9on centralised Academy FTP / Archie / Public, decentralised ✔ 1985 Downloaded resources (papers, reports) to hard drives (CS & HEP) Anarchie and printed them on LaserWriters. Commerce Hypercard, Private, centralised ✔ 1988 Personal applica9ons, some9mes 9ed to mul9media HyperTIES resources on CDROMs / video disks Academy (HEP) WWW Public, global, ✔ 1990 Universal naming, linking, interoperability, par9cipa9ve. decentralised However no wri9ng, no indexing. Academy (CS) Microcosm Private, centralised ✔ 1990 Sophis9cated linking and openness for personal informa9on stores Academy (CS) HyperG Public, centralised ✔ 1990 Extension of Web for with support for wri9ng, indexing and consistency management. Commerce AOL, Public, centralised ✔ 1990 Dialup access to email, forums, chat rooms and CompuServ informa9on resources
NASA WMAP Science Team hip://map.gsfc.nasa.gov/news/3yr_release.html
The Big Bang: Informa9on & Fundamental Constants • The Web spread the condi9ons of its ini9al crea9on throughout the whole of society as it underwent an ini9al inﬂa9onary phase. • Consequently, the assump9on of the open exchange of informa9on (found in an academic physics research laboratory) is now being imposed on the rest of society. • The ques9on that Web Science must address is whether the Web, open access, open data and the Scien9ﬁc and Crea9ve Commons oﬀer us a beneﬁcial opportunity, or a dangerous cul-‐de-‐sac? • For further details see Carr, L., Pope, C. and Halford, S. (2010) Could the Web be a Temporary Glitch? In: WebSci10: Extending the Fron7ers of Society On-‐Line, April 26-‐27th, 2010, Raleigh, NC: US. hip://eprints.ecs.soton.ac.uk/21032/
Dissemina9on of Knowledge • An old tradi9on and a new technology have converged to make possible an unprecedented public good. (Budapest Open Access Ini7a7ve, 2001)
Web Science Ques9ons • How would the world change if one of the previous Web systems had been in the right place at the right 9me for success? – What if the commercial, crea9ve Web had succeeded (Xanadu + AOL) instead of the open, academic Web? • How will the world change as other parts of society impose their requirements on the Web? – What if the requirements of security and policing take future priority over free exchange of informa9on or unrestricted transfer of knowledge?
Urgent Web Science Ques9ons • Are the public and open aspects of the Web fundamental constants of its opera9on? • Are they a permanent change in our society’s informa9on processes, or just a temporary mistake? – Are open source, open access, open science & crea9ve commons eﬃcient, eﬀec9ve and sustainable alterna9ves to fee-‐based transfer of knowledge-‐ bearing artefacts?
Summary • We take for granted a Web that provides free and unrestricted informa9on exchange • But the Web is under pressure to change – to respond to issues of security, commerce, criminality, privacy • Web Science needs to – explain how the Web impacts society – predict the outcomes of proposed changes to Web infrastructure on business and society.
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