Feeds

Greatest Living Briton gets £30m for 'web science'

We are all Twittercrats now

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

As an alliance of the desperate, this one takes some beating. The Greatest Living Briton (Sir Timothy Berners Lee) has been thrown £30m of taxpayers' money for a new institute to research "web science".

Meanwhile the Prime Minister waxed lyrical today about the semantic web - how "data" would replace files, with machine speaking unto machine in a cybernetic paradise.

It's really a confluence of two groups of people with a shared interest in bureaucracy. Computer Science is no longer about creating graduates who can solve engineering challenges, but about generating work for the academics themselves. The core expertise of a CompSci department today is writing funding applications. And the Holy Grail for these paper chasers is a blank cheque for work which can be conducted without scrutiny for years to come. With its endless committees defining standards (eg, "ontologies", "folksonomies") that no one will ever use, the "Semantic Web" fits the bill perfectly.

Of course, most web data is personal communication that happens to have been recorded. Most of the rest is spam, generated by robots, or cut-and-paste material 'curated' by the unemployed or poor graduates - another form of spam, really. The enterprise is doomed. But nobody's told the political class.

Sir Timothy: it's only web spam

"You've been phished, Timothy? Here, have £30m"

For real bureaucrats the dangers of self-service government are obvious - most of the civil servants are not needed any more. Therefore the challenge is to make the technology as expensive and bureaucratic as possible. Both IT consultants and civil servants have got rather good at this over the past 15 years: IT consultants fees have exceeded £100m since 1997.

In his latest speech, Broon says:

"[The] next generation web is a simple concept, but I believe it has the potential to be just as revolutionary - just as disruptive to existing business and organisational models - as the web was itself, moving us from a web of managing documents and files to a web of managing data and information - and thus opening up the possibility of by-passing current digital bottlenecks and getting direct answers to direct requests for data and information."

And I'm sure he believes every word.

The beauty of the "semantic web" - unworkable in anything other than a small, tightly controlled context - is that it will be years before anyone notices. By which time "Web Science" departments will have flourished all over the land, and billions more will have been spent trying to make Big Government small.

So you have two parties with a mutual interest in prolonging the agony. What's uniquely grim about the appointment of The GLB to oversee all this, is that Tim Berners Lee is probably the last person you'd want advising on your web strategy. He refuses to recognise the many problems with networks, as we discovered three years ago, back when he boasted that Phishing wasn't a problem - because he'd never been Phished. That didn't last long. ®

SANS - Survey on application security programs

More from The Register

next story
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Lavabit loses contempt of court appeal over protecting Snowden, customers
Judges rule complaints about government power are too little, too late
Whoever you vote for, Google gets in
Report uncovers giant octopus squid of lobbying influence
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Alphadex fires back at British Gas with overcharging allegation
Brit colo outfit says it paid for 347KVA, has been charged for 1940KVA
Jack the RIPA: Blighty cops ignore law, retain innocents' comms data
Prime minister: Nothing to see here, go about your business
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.