The web is pretty good — it connects people to pictures, text, and video. But it can be much more useful. We need to connect numbers through linked data. That's what the inventor of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, believes. Now Berners-Lee has $45 million in funding to improve the Internet.
Enter the semantic web: Berners-Lee will head the Institute of Web Science, which aims to make sense of mounds of data. Earlier this year, he developed a website called data.gov.uk to sort through 2,500 government data sets. For example, traffic patterns and school locations have been developed.
It will be interesting to see how Berners-Lee's new center will position Britain in our digital age. Here is Berners-Lee's TED talk on linked data:
In theory, everyone should have access to "super fast broadband" if you think of the Internet as a utility like water and electricity. That's what the British Prime Minster believes anyway and wants all Britons to have access to the Internet by 2020. However, this universal plan could kick as many as 200,000 people off the Internet in the UK because of the added tax, but could create even more jobs.
The British broadband plan isn't far from what the U.S. wants to accomplish with the new FCC Broadband Plan that went to Congress last week. According to the The New York Times:
For its part, the F.C.C. on Tuesday characterized its Congressionally mandated plan as a much-needed step for keeping the nation competitive. The policies echo a generations-old effort to provide every home with a telephone, itself once seen as a communications tool central to economic and social development.
However, building a robust broadband infrastructure will take time.
Building a smarter web is just one of the lofty goals scientists have. The future of the Internet looks like we will be able to access it from anything (possibly our glasses), data from stuff will accumulate, access to the Internet from mobile phones will become more popular. And of course, you always want to be mindful of the carbon footprint our digital hookups leave behind.