It's amazing to think that the web is nearly 15 years old now. And just like the parent of any normal teenager, Sir Tim Berners-Lee is start to wonder what the future of his offspring going to be.
There's little doubt that the web isn't quite behaving as its parents intended - porn and phishing are probably the virtual equivalents of smoking behind the bus station and shoplifting from Boots. It's not surprising then that Sir Tim has expressed concerns about the future direction of his creation. "Suppose among all the beautiful, wonderful things it's created, it also creates something horrible?" - pretty much the equivalent of hoping that it doesn't drop out of college to hang out with its unsavoury friends.
One the face of it the establishment of a a degree in web science (at MIT and the University of Southampton) sounds like a good idea that's destined to fail. A degree that combines computer science with social science seems like an uneasy mix - there's no idea that's so bad that the introduction of a sociologist can't make it worse.
But I think it's a great idea. if the web had been left in the hands of the geeks, it wouldn't be transforming our lives the way it has - remember the struggles to get commercial websites accepted. And the situation would be even worse if matters had been left in the hands of businesses - the UK government's solution for everything.
To my mind, its good to see that some universities have embraced the 21st century - too many academic IT courses are stuck in the past. They can't always be blamed for this: IT changes so quickly that colleges are always going to struggle to keep up. But a course that combines the best of computing and sccial sciences could be a shot in the arm for the Internet. It's either that or painting its toenails black while listening to Limp Bizkit ... or whatever the cyberspace equivalent is.
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