Happy Surprises?

Yorick Wilks

in Paradoxes of Modernization

Published in print June 2010 | ISBN: 9780199573547
Published online September 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191722677 | DOI:
Happy Surprises?

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This chapter discusses the unintended and unexpected benefits that have arisen from the development of computing technologies and most specifically the World Wide Web (WWW) and the Semantic Web (SW). It starts by setting out what different kinds of unintended consequences have been exemplified in modern computer technology generally; and more specifically, in the development of the internet, the WWW, and the SW. The second section looks at the story of the early days of the internet and the WWW, while the third looks at the SW and its relation to various developments in computer science. The fourth section examines the intentions of Tim Berners-Lee in developing the WWW and the SW, examining the hypothesis that we may have ‘piggy-backing’ levels of the unintended: first the internet itself, as it has become, may be regarded as unintended through the development of the WWW. If the WWW is itself unintended, there is now a myriad of popular and totally unforeseen consequences piggy-backed upon it, many of them of socially profound and transformative. The good news is that if the WWW as we have it now is, in any way, unintended, should be regarded as a ‘Good Thing’.

Keywords: internet; World Wide Web; Semantic Web; Tim Berners-Lee; piggy-backing

Chapter.  6479 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Public Management and Administration

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