Friday, January 01, 2010

What is Web Science?

Web science is about this enterprise – understanding the Web and anticipating how we might improve it, extend it in the future.
- Nigel Shadbolt

Web science is about studying the web, almost as an external object – as one would study the brain for example. The web is seen as a complex object, which hasn’t been carefully studied yet. We want to understand more the properties and dynamics of the web. Web science must also be normative, propose and engineer solutions to make the web work better and serve better humanity.
- Tim Berners-Lee

The World Wide Web has changed the world. It has changed the ways we communicate, collaborate, and educate. We increasingly live in a Web-dependent society in a Web-dependent world. The Web is also the largest human information construct and it is growing faster than any other system. However, it is a striking fact that there is no systematic discipline to study the Web. We need to understand the current, evolving, and potential Web but at the moment we have no means of predicting the impact that future developments in the Web will have on society or business. Web Science aims to anticipate these impacts. It is the study of the social behaviours in the Web at the inter-person, inter-organizational and societal level, the technologies that enable and support this behaviour, and the interactions between these technologies and behaviours. It is therefore inherently interdisciplinary and at even the simplest level represents a fundamental collaboration between computer science and the social sciences.
- Wendy Hall

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.
- New York Times

A new field of science that involves a multi-disciplinary study and inquiry for the understanding of the Web and its relationships to us
- Bebo White

Web science represents a pretty big next step in the evolution of information. This kind of research likely to have a lot of influence on the next generation of researchers, scientists and, most importantly, the next generation of entrepreneurs who will build new companies from this.
- Eric Schmidt

Web science research is a prerequisite to designing and building the kinds of complex, human-oriented systems that we are after in services science.
- Irving Wladawsky-Berger

What is my definition of web science?
20 percent of the world's computationally generated content is enterprise data. Eighty percent now is user-generated data. What this means for us? People are outsourcing their mental functions to the web, so Web Science is a new interdisciplinary field whose aim is help understand the web (and people), engineer its future and ensure its social benefits for the good of everyone.

1 comment:

John S Erickson PhD said...

Great summary, Saravanan! Here's my own definition, based on personal conversations with the likes of Wendy Hall, Nigel Shadbolt, Leslie Carr, and especially Jim Hendler:
The new field of Web Science positions the World Wide Web as an object of scientific study unto itself. Web Science recognizes the Web as a transformational, disruptive technology, and its practitioners focus on understanding it and its components, its facets and its characteristics.