QOTD: MIT and Southampton

Lorcan 1 min read

The MIT – Southampton research collaboration around ‘web science’ has been much noted:

The Web Science Research Initiative (WSRI) will generate a research agenda for understanding the scientific, technical and social challenges underlying the growth of the Web. Of particular interest is the volume of information on the Web that documents more and more aspects of human activity and knowledge. WSRI research projects will weigh such questions as, how do we access information and assess its reliability? By what means may we assure its use complies with social and legal rules? How will we preserve the Web over time? [ECS – Southampton and MIT launch Web Science collaboration]

John Naughton, Professor of the public understanding of technology at the Open University, technology columnist for the Observer and Fellow of Wolfson College, Cambridge, comments sardonically. An excerpt:

Ah, poor Southampton (or Soton, as it’s known on the net). It’s about to learn that entering into a “partnership” with MIT is like marrying into the British royal family. As Ry Cooder might put it, you get to ride in the white Lincoln Continental with the red upholstery, but you must learn always to walk two paces behind your “partner” and never, ever assume that you have any rights to the fawning and adulation that followed upon your elevation. MIT doesn’t do partnerships in the normally understood sense of the term; what it does do are pragmatic or strategic liaisons that are deemed to be in its institutional interests. Ask the ancient University of Cambridge, which knows a thing or two about this. Gordon Brown put up £64 million of UK taxpayers’ money to lubricate a partnership between Cambridge and MIT. Guess who got the lion’s share of the loot? [Comment is free: Exploring the web]

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