Feeds

Tim Berners Lee goes postal on spam

The Greatest Living Briton explodes

Boost IT visibility and business value

So there we were. In a room devoted to Engineering, the man voted the Greatest Living Briton had exploded in front of me.

Sir Tim Berners Lee, co-inventor of the World Wide Web, was at Southampton University to deliver an inaugural lecture for School of Electronics and Computer Science, and promote his latest initiative.

There's a whole new science out there waiting to be explored, called "Web Science", and he was here to explain how. The Web Science Initiative was "an umbrella, with lots of projects" around the world, he said.

Flanked by the great and the good, Professors Nigel Shadbolt, vice president of the British Computer Society, and Wendy Hall, and James Hendler. Sir Tim said he hoped this would set the agenda for years to come.

This new science comes with some grand claims attached. Shadbolt said he hoped the web would attract a new kind of undergraduate to computer science departments, who presumably had been bored by all that old-fashioned science and engineering.

Shadbolt implied we could learn a lot about humanity from looking at the Interweb.

"What actually happens on the web when people participate is all psychology: it's more accurate to think of the web as humanity connected," he said.

"It's people: things get published by people, the blogs are made by people, the links between them that Google follows are made by people."

Hendler jumped in:

"I was the external reader for a paper for somebody here at ECS. The first line of her thesis is 'This Document Is About People'. And I put down explanation marks and "hurrays!" That's a student who's beginning to understand web science!"

(So that's how you get on in Computing, dear readers).

But this was all a bit much for your reporter.

"The assumption behind everything you've said is that this research will create some kind of knowledge," I asked. "The other assumption is that the links you'll be examining to provide this knowledge are generated by humans.

"Now when I search for a term on Google Blogsearch or Technorati, two thirds of those results are robots. People at Google tell me between twenty per cent and a third of the index is junk - Google doesn't know which third."

"So, er... what's your research going to be worth?"

"That's one of the good questions," said Professor Hall.

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
UK fuzz want PINCODES on ALL mobile phones
Met Police calls for mandatory passwords on all new mobes
Canadian ISP Shaw falls over with 'routing' sickness
How sure are you of cloud computing now?
Don't call it throttling: Ericsson 'priority' tech gives users their own slice of spectrum
Actually it's a nifty trick - at least you'll pay for what you get
Three floats Jolla in Hong Kong: Says Sailfish is '3rd option'
Network throws hat into ring with Linux-powered handsets
Fifteen zero days found in hacker router comp romp
Four routers rooted in SOHOpelessly Broken challenge
New Sprint CEO says he will lower axe on staff – but prices come first
'Very disruptive' new rates to be revealed next week
US TV stations bowl sueball directly at FCC's spectrum mega-sale
Broadcasters upset about coverage and cost as they shift up and down the dials
O2 vs Vodafone: Mobe firms grab for GCHQ, gov.uk security badge
No, the spooks love US best, say rival firms
Ancient pager tech SMS: It works, it's fab, but wow, get a load of that incoming SPAM
Networks' main issue: they don't know how it works, says expert
Trans-Pacific: Google spaffs cash on FAST undersea packet-flinging
One of 6 backers for new 60 Tbps cable to hook US to Japan
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.