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Tetherless World Constellation

Experts Discuss Future of Web

Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the Web (second from right), joined a panel of leading authorities on the World Wide Web to launch the Tetherless World Constellation at Rensselaer.

Experts Discuss Future of Web

On June 11, leading authorities on the World Wide Web gathered at Rensselaer for an old-fashioned debate with a social media twist. The questions for discussion were shaped and selected by the collective wisdom of Web users from around the world.

After delivering a keynote address, Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the Web, joined a panel of experts from academia and industry for a public discussion about the Web’s future. The content of the debate was collaboratively created by Web users, who submitted questions through a user-based online ranking system, similar to the community-based news site Digg. The most popular questions drove the on-campus discussion.

The public debate, which was streamed live via an interactive Webcast, was part of a daylong event to celebrate the Tetherless World Constellation at Rensselaer—a new academic center devoted to the emerging field of Web Science.

A wide range of issues were discussed, from sustaining the usefulness of the current Web to creating a next-generation Semantic Web, as well as the role of politics, education, and sociological factors in the Web’s continued evolution. Since its inception, the Web has changed the ways people work, play, communicate, collaborate, and educate, according to James Hendler, Senior Constellation Professor of the Tetherless World Constellation at Rensselaer. There is, however, a growing realization among researchers across a number of disciplines that without new research aimed at understanding the current, evolving, and potential Web, opportunities for new and revolutionary capabilities may be missed or delayed.

The Tetherless World Constellation will address this emerging area of Web Science, focusing on the Web and its future use. Faculty in the constellation will explore the research and engineering principles that underlie the Web, will enhance the Web’s reach beyond the desktop and laptop computer, and will develop new technologies and languages that expand the capabilities of the Web. They will use powerful scientific and mathematical techniques from many disciplines to explore the modeling of the Web from network- and information-centric views.

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Rensselaer (ISSN 0898-1442) is published in Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter by the Office of Strategic Communications and External Relations, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY 12180-3590. Opinions expressed in these pages do not necessarily reflect the views of the editors or the policies of the Institute. ©2008 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.