Web birthday at CERN
March 17th, 2009


SEED Magazine’s article today on the 20th anniversary of the WorldWideWeb being celebrated at CERN (where the WWW was born) sketches the history and celebrates Web’s Papa Tim Berners-Lee. Included are insights by James Gillies, head of CERN communications, about how the web has transformed science. The second of these ways describes smart mobbing of science, which he says needs to get smarter:

In the past five years, the web has also democratized information publishing in society, says Gillies. Science used to be conducted without the public’s direct participation. When people called themselves “scientists,” there were standards that the scientific community expected would be upheld. Laypeople did not participate in the discussion. “Today, with the web, everyone has the ability to express themselves and to publish information as if it were truth,” notes Gillies. “It has gotten significantly more difficult to differentiate science from the opinions of others who are writing.

“As the person responsible for CERN’s communication, I’ve been in the front line of this with the mass delusion on the web that CERN’s current project [the LHC] might be dangerous  —  that’s absolute nonsense, of course, but people have not yet learned how to evaluate the mass of information online,” Gillies observes.

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