The meeting was one of a series of consultation events convened by the European Commission's Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) action to identify potential topics for future proactive research initiatives in emerging and high-risk areas of ICT. In particular, the meeting considered the evolution of proactive initiatives in the area of complex systems and the new ‘science of the Web’ as part of a process to help shape the future research agenda.
The meeting, entitled "FET Proactive Workshop on Web Science", was held in Brussels 9th April 2008, and brought together a broad range of scientific communities. The experts were invited to share their views on the key challenges in the interplay of different disciplines for understanding, developing and controlling the future evolution of the Web. Participants offered short presentations on the invited theme, which provided the basis for more in-depth, crosscutting discussions.
I have posed what I considered to be the basic question of Web Science: What technological and other changes need to be made in order for the Web to work better? Web Science is inherently interdisciplinary and experience from other interdisciplinary fields, such as econometrics, suggests success requires a clear functional framework. As a decentralised information system, the Web itself could act as a major catalyst for effective interdisciplinary research. For the first time, researchers have a practical common tool to use to help them build the necessary bridges. Web economics and Web culture could be interesting areas on which to focus initially. In addition, we need to look at how Web Science will be implemented in practice, such as how to form effective interdisciplinary research projects and teams.