Bebo White, one of the pioneers of the Wide World Web, will be making a special presentation on Thursday. Sept. 17, at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology that examines Web science as a new, multi-disciplinary research effort. The event, from 4:20-5:10 p.m. in the GM Room of Moench Hall, is free and open to the public.
Bebo is a key player in the Web Science Research Initiative, which aims to create a new interdisciplinary field called Web Science. Rose-Hulman has been a thought leader in this field, previously hosting the WWW@10 conference in 2004 (unfortunately a full year before I attended there) and founding the Web History Center.
But for its own part, Rose is not yet a pioneer in the practical side of this field. Academia as a whole has had difficulty keeping up with the fast-paced digital world and its rapidly changing technology base, and Rose is no different from the vast majority of other institutions each still focusing strictly on basic computer science and engineering concepts at the undergraduate level. Without acres of trees worth of Ph.D dissertations on web science, universities find it difficult to create the new courses and majors required to support America in the 21st century. A small group at Rose is trying to change that, and other schools in the tri-state are wasting no time building out curriculum under the banner of “informatics” (NKU, IU), but nothing fruitful will happen at any of these schools until well into the next decade. Even MIT only has labs (CSAIL, Media Lab) tangentially related to the field, not majors.
What are your takes on how academia can catch up to the current knowledge-based economy?