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The University of Southampton
Economic, Social and Political Sciences

New Web Science Institute to explore how the Web will shape our future

Published: 10 June 2014 Origin:  Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology

The University of Southampton officially launches its new Web Science Institute on Thursday 12 June to investigate how the World Wide Web is changing the world and the world is changing the Web.

The World Wide Web is the largest human information system in history, integrated into the everyday lives of billions of people across the planet, shaping how we do business, conduct our social lives and organise politically.

The University of Southampton has played a significant role in the development of the Web over the last 25 years, including the foundation of the innovative discipline of Web Science 10 years ago.

The event, at the prestigious Royal Society in London, will mark the formal launch of the Web Science Institute and opens with an exhibition showcasing its interdisciplinary Web Science research. This will include the Web Observatory and the unique SOCIAM project , which aims to create a greater understanding of ‘social machines’ including the World Wide Web.

Institute Directors Professor Dame Wendy Hall , Professor Sir Nigel Shadbolt and Professor Susan Halford , together with Professor Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, will join other leading figures from Web and internet science, including the University’s newly appointed Visiting Professor Liam Maxwell, Government Chief Technology Officer, in a panel-led discussion on future developments. Keynote presentations will also be delivered by JP Rangaswami, Chief Scientist at and Richard Susskind OBE, author, speaker and IT Adviser to the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales.

Professor Dame Wendy Hall says: “As we celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Web and think about the role Web Science can play in helping to shape the future Web we want, it is a perfect time to be launching the Web Science Institute. We are looking forward to showcasing current Web Science work and discussing what it means to look at the world through a Web Science lens.”

Professor Sir Nigel Shadbolt says: “The Web empowers individuals and communities. It is based on open standards and open participation. And now open data on the Web will drive even greater innovation. The Web Science Institute will help us understand these exciting opportunities.”

The Institute brings together world-leading multidisciplinary expertise from across the University to tackle the most pressing global challenges facing the World Wide Web and wider society today. It will focus the analytical power of researchers from disciplines as diverse as sociology and computer science, economics and psychology, law and humanities to understand and explain the Web by:
· focusing on interdisciplinary collaborations and partnerships;
· demonstrating clear ambition, adaptability and innovation;
· leveraging the visionary leadership and outstanding staff and student expertise across the University;
· providing a platform for significant investment by Government and external partners;
· showcasing unique and creative education programmes that set new standards internationally.

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