RPI unveils Web research center

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on Wednesday launched its new Internet research center.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on Wednesday launched its new Internet research center.

RPI President Shirley Ann Jackson said the center is part of a plan to allow RPI to take advantage of the historic pace of technological research under way throughout the world.

The new center was announced as part of a virtual interactive debate conducted in partnership with the technology blog ReadWriteWeb.

“The interactive format for this event is a fitting way to launch an innovative academic research program devoted to deepening our understanding of the World Wide Web,” Jackson said.

Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the Web and the director of the World Wide Web Consortium, gave the keynote address for the event. Berners-Lee was ranked first among the 100 greatest living geniuses by the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph.

One of the areas of focus for the RPI program — named the Tetherless World Research Constellation — will be the next generation “Semantic Web.” RPI professor James Hendler will head the effort. He said there has been a growing realization among researchers that a new effort aimed at understanding the potential of the Web is needed.

“If we want to model the Web, if we want to understand the architectural principles that have provided for its growth, and if we want to be sure that it supports the basic social values of trustworthiness, personal control over information, and respect for social boundaries, then we must pursue a research agenda that targets the Web and its use as a primary focus of attention,” Hendler said.

Greg Williams, an RPI computer science graduate student, said he is doing research to help build the foundation for the Semantic Web, which he said will enable smarter Internet searches.

Berners-Lee said when he first created the Web it was impossible to imagine what people would eventually use it for.

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