Feeds

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

We are all Twittercrats now

Intelligent flash storage arrays

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. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
'Cowardly, venomous trolls' threatened with TWO-YEAR sentences for menacing posts
UK government: 'Taking a stand against a baying cyber-mob'
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Arab States make play for greater government control of the internet
Nerds told to get lost in last-minute power grab bid at UN meeting
Zippy one-liners, broken promises: Doctor Who on the Orient Express
Series finally hits stride, but Clara's U-turn is baffling
Don't bother telling people if you lose their data, say Euro bods
You read that right – with the proviso that it's encrypted
Apple SILENCES Bose, YANKS headphones from stores
The, er, Beats go on after noise-cancelling spat
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.