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At the micro scale, the Web is an infrastructure of artificial languages and protocols; it is a piece of engineering. However, it is the interaction of human beings creating, linking, and consuming information that generates the Web's behavior as emergent properties at the macro scale. These properties often generate surprising properties that require new analytic methods to be understood. Some are desirable and therefore to be engineered in; others are undesirable and if possible engineered out. We also need to keep in mind that the Web is part of a wider system of human interaction; it has profoundly affected society, with each emerging wave creating new challenges and opportunities in making information more available to wider sectors of the population than ever before.

The Web is changing at a rate that may be greater than even the most knowledgeable researcher's ability to observe it.


Web Science: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Understanding the Web