Computer Science or not?

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May 18, 2014 by Ozgur Ozden

Critically assess the idea that there should be a subject called Web science. Weigh the arguments for and against having such an interdisciplinary academic subject.

Classical definition of science is experiments, observations, formulations carried out by humans to discover information hidden in nature, create a model and improve it with tools and materials. This process is called Scientific Method and its steps can be given as Observation/Research, Hypothesis, Prediction, Experimentation, Conclusion. First you observe certain phenomena then construct a hypothesis to describe it, then predict and validate experimenting. Finally analyse the results of the experiments and compare with the hypothesis, if it is not in agreement with the predicted results change the parameters of the experiment and start the whole process again. One of the main properties of being a science is repeatability and obtaining the same results over and over again.
L.A. Carr (2011) defines web science as “ the study of technologies and policies that support the co-construction of a linked online environment by a networked society.” Another definition made by Marie Evans (2011) perhaps describes web science and linked parameters much better as “ Web Science is about taking a three dimensional space, populating it with discussions on, knowledge of and reflections on: (among other things) identity, security, science, technology, the arts, politics, economics, society, maths, physics, computer science, psychology, law, communications and philosophy.” As we can see here web sciences depends on many other things and it is an inter-disciplinary subject. Web Science tries to uncover and understand how web is formed, develop and progress.
As a result of advancement in technology, faster connections, more computing power in smaller devices, we become online almost 7/24. Shopping, direction, booking, news, communication, weather are all online and instant. Web is an artificial world created by humans and creating new social, economical, technical patterns for us. We need new regulations and laws dealing with this new world but these must be different than the ones we have now and must be interconnected with other disciplines. Web science tries to shed some light on the user of the web combining with social, psychological, behavioral aspects. How is facebook, twitter, google docs, flicker, online shopping etc… affects the society. For example Turkey is having problems with its PM and many people of the country including myself are on riot. Most of these people are young, generation Y, used twitter and Facebook for communications during these protests in the first night and 15 million tweets were sent. They have warned each other by tweets and marked police locations and barricades on google maps. Probably first time in the history facebook and twitter played a vital role in such a civil disorder. Now same govt is issuing a legislation to ban and shut down twitter and facebook when it is not served to their purposes. So this must be investigated by web science.
At very early stages of science, we used to have a single and very broad science concept. When we start experimenting and exploring this science we became experts in some particular fields and labeled them like Physics, Math, Chemistry, and Biology as we know today. So new sciences arose.
I believe that we are still at the beginning for web science and we may see the same pattern here. Web Science depends on many things like identity, arts, politics, economics, society, maths, physics, computer science, psychology, law, communications and philosophy and all these items may be considered as an individual science one day if we advance enough. Such as Economical Sciences of Web, Philosophical Sciences of Web, Art Sciences of Web or Law of Web. In this way we can better analyse the relationship and effects of web on the society and us.

References:
1-Web science (2011) (online) Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_Science [Accessed at: 16 June 2013]
2- L.A Carr (2011) What is web science? (online) Available at: http://www.slideshare.net/lescarr/what-is-web-science [Accessed at: 15 June 2013]
3- Rory Cellan-Jones (2008) What is web science? (online) http://www.bbc.co.uk/ blogs/technology/2008/03/what_is_web_science.html [Accessed at: 15 June 2013]
4- Shirley Knot (2011) What is web science (online) available at http://shirleyknot.blogspot.com/2011/03/what-is-web-science.html [Accessed at: 15 June 2013]

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