A new report on future science from the Royal Society, London, features Web Science as one of the key areas of scientific exploration this century.

The Royal Society celebrated its 350th anniversary years with a series of high-level discussion meetings which featured the key scientific questions of the 21st century. Web Science was one of those important areas and a two-day meeting at the Society’s headquarters in London in September 2010 drew a capacity audience to hear distinguished speakers from around the world discuss many aspects of the Web’s impact on science and society.

To complete its celebrations the Royal Society has now published a report entitled ‘Science sees further’, which contains contributions from the organizers of all the discussion meetings and summarizes the most important aspects of their subjects. The Web Science article is written by Professor Nigel Shadbolt, Professor Dame Wendy Hall, Professor James Hendler, and Professor William Dutton.

The article explains why the Web is now crucial for the future development of society, outlines the progress that has been made in understanding some of its key features, and explains how the scientific study of the Web can benefit society’s endeavours in the future. It places the intellectual challenge of Web Science firmly on a par with climate science, the breadth of the life sciences, and the exploration of the Universe and makes a powerful plea for the importance of an integrated multidisciplinary approach to understanding the Web:

‘If we are to anticipate how the Web will develop we will require insight into our own nature and the dynamics of policy and practice worldwide. Web Science is not only a new frontier, it is an endeavour that will bring together a new generation of enquiring minds.’

Video recordings of all the contributions to the September Discussion Meeting – Web Science: A New Frontier, can be accessed on the Royal Society’s web pages.