We were delighted to welcome Professor Dame Wendy Hall as the keynote speaker for our last event of 2013. Wendy is Professor of Computer Science at the University of Southampton and one of the first computer scientists to undertake serious research into multimedia and hypermedia. Named one of the 100 most powerful women in the UK and long time collaborator with Sir Tim Berners Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, she has been influential in many areas including digital libraries and development of the semantic web. Her talk rounded off our innovation with current resources theme looking at how the web has changed our lives dramatically over the last 15 years and how it will continue to do so for a long time to come.
Wendy gave us many examples and you can see a reflection of these in a blog from Alex, one of our new colleagues from Sue Hill at a View from the Hill For me there were several things to take away including the reduction of barriers to use a technology service – making it freely available, easy to use were aspects that drove the take up of the Web; the importance of linking on the Web and how as people we are good at analysing and making links with information but that machines have the edge when it comes to analysing data and making links with the data. Wendy tells us we are now in an age of data and at this point there is a reluctance to share our data. When the Web first appeared people were reluctant to share documents but this changed to enable us to have the wealth of information now available to us. Will this change in the future for data? That depends on society at large to a certain extent, the Web exists because of the way people contribute to and use it.
The most important point that I took away from this was how important the values of trust, honesty and sharing are to the survival of the World Wide Web.