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Tim Berners-Lee testifies before the United States House of Representatives Committee
28 February 2007
Tim Berners-Lee is testifying before the United States House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet. Chairman Edward Markey invited him as the sole witness for the first in a series on the Digital Future of the United States. Tim Berners-Lee's testimony concludes with an explanation of why we need web science:
"Progress in the evolution of the Web to date has been quite gratifying to me. But the Web is by no means finished.
The Web, and everything which happens on it, rest on two things: technological protocols, and social conventions. The technological protocols, like HTTP and HTML, determine how computers interact. Social conventions, such as the incentive to make links to valuable resources, or the rules of engagement in a social networking web site, are about how people like to, and are allowed to, interact.
As the Web passes through its first decade of widespread use, we still know surprisingly little about these complex technical and social mechanisms. We have only scratched the surface of what could be realized with deeper scientific investigation into its design, operation and impact on society. Robust technical design, innovative business decisions, and sound public policy judgment all require that we are aware of the complex interactions between technology and society. We call this awareness Web Science: the science and engineering of this massive system for the common good. In order to galvanize Web Science research and education efforts, MIT and the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom have created the Web Science Research Initiative. In concert with an international Scientific Advisory Council of distinguished computer scientists, social scientists, and legal scholars, WSRI will help create an intellectual foundations, educational atmosphere, and resource base to allow researchers to take the Web seriously as an object of scientific enquiry and engineering innovation. "