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Web Science 'comes of age'

The Web Science Trust has been granted charitable status, in a move which will enable greater focused, global development of the discipline.

Established in November 2009, the Web Science Trust (WST) was developed to advance education, research and thought leadership in the new discipline of Web Science.

The announcement of its charitable status by the UK Charity Commissioners now enables it to undertake its own independent fundraising and provides it with a greater degree of self-determination.

Launched as a discipline in 2006, under the aegis of the Web Science Research Initiative (WSRI), Web Science brings together researchers and educators from many disciplines to coordinate and support the study of the decentralised information system that is the World Wide Web and to research its impact on society.

With the concept of Web Science now widely disseminated and established as an important area of activity, the Founding Directors of WSRI took the decision last year to establish a charitable body – the Web Science Trust – to take the work forward.

The key people in the Trust, which is chaired by Sir John Taylor, are Professor Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Professor Noshir Contractor, Professor Dame Wendy Hall, Professor James Hendler, Rosemary Leith, Professor Nigel Shadbolt, and Daniel J Weitzner.

‘The establishment of the Web Science Trust and the granting of charitable status marks a significant stage in the global development of the discipline,’ said Professor Wendy Hall. ‘It is a hugely important development for the community - in fact it feels like Web Science is “coming of age”.’

‘We are now firmly focussed on our goal of encouraging the widest participation in the development of Web Science,’ said Professor James Hendler.

Recent months have provided a number of illustrations of the growing influence of Web Science, from the UK Government’s endorsement of open data, to the growing network of Web Science research laboratories around the world.

The BBC is currently showing a four-part series, Virtual Revolution, to mark the 20th anniversary of the Web, for which Professor Nigel Shadbolt has acted as Series Consultant. Professor Tim Berners-Lee features prominently in the series, along with other leaders of the World Wide Web community.

On Monday 8 March the Web Science Trust will be supporting a panel discussion on ‘Why Study the Web?’, to be held at the Royal Society in Carlton House Terrace. The event is free and open to the public and organized by the Web Science Doctoral Training Centre at the University of Southampton.

In April 2010 the second conference on Web Science (WebSci10) will be held at Raleigh, North Carolina, co-located with the World Wide Web Conference.

WST is working with the World Wide Web Foundation. The Foundation has a mission to advance the Web and empower people via the Web. The Trust and the Foundation have a common commitment to advance the new discipline of Web Science, and will work together on projects that improve our understanding of the Web and promote the Web's positive impact on society.

For further information contact Joyce Lewis; tel. +44(0)23 8059 5453

Posted by Joyce Lewis on 18 Feb 2010.