Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Web Science or Informatioin Science?

If you subscribe to Communications of the ACM, check Ben Shneiderman's viewpoint article on Web Science (2007, No.6, p. 25). I hope, it will appear in the ACM DL shortly. The author follows Tim Bernes-Lee and his colleagues, who recently declared the new Science of the Web (Science, 2006, No.11). Ben's point is to contrast Computer Science and new Web Science. He offers a number of good arguments in favor of Web Science. The author encourages other school to consider Web Science and provides Maryland, Michigan, and North Carolina as examples of the new breed of programs. I completely agree with most of the statements. The only problem is that Ben's interpretation makes it quite clear to me that Web Science is basically the same as Information Science, as the I-Schools now understand it. Of course, all three provided program examples are I-Schools. So, we are essentially preaching the same thing under other (I would say more appropriate) name. I think, Web Science and Information Science movements should not compete, but can reinforce each other - since they focus mostly on the same socially motivated field. From our side, we probably should consider stressing the Web more in our programs and advertisings.

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