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  • Hello. This is 6 Minute English from

  • BBC Learning English. I'm Neil.

  • And I'm Sam. What's the matter, Neil?

  • You sound upset.

  • Well, I am, Sam - I just spent an hour

  • working on my computer when

  • it suddenly froze. I lost

  • everything and had to start all over again!

  • Agghh, that's so frustrating - like pop-up

  • internet ads and buffering

  • videos that never play!

  • Modern computers and the internet

  • have revolutionised the way

  • we live today, bringing us the world

  • with a click of a button. But not everyone

  • feels happy about these

  • technological developments.

  • While potentially acting as a force

  • for good and progress,

  • the internet also provides a

  • way of spreading hate and

  • misinformation. And for some

  • people, the World Wide Web remains

  • a mysterious and confusing place.

  • In this programme, we'll hear about a new

  • academic subject called

  • Web Science.

  • Web Science studies the

  • technology behind the internet.

  • But from the human side, it's also

  • interested in how people interact

  • with each other online.

  • So we'll be asking whether studying

  • Web Science could make

  • the internet better for humanity

  • in the future.

  • But first it's time for our quiz question.

  • I wonder what the pioneers of the internet

  • would think about how it is used today.

  • So the question is, who invented

  • the World Wide

  • Web? Was it: a) Bill Gates,

  • b) Tim Berners-Lee, or c) Steve Jobs?

  • Well, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs were

  • the brains behind Microsoft

  • and Apple Mac, so I'm going

  • to say c) Tim Berners-Lee.

  • OK, Sam, we'll find out later. Now, because

  • of coronavirus the annual

  • Web Science conference

  • was held online this year. Its theme was

  • 'making the web human-centric'.

  • One of the conference's key speakers,

  • and co-founder of the new

  • discipline of Web Science,

  • was Dame Wendy Hall. Here she is

  • speaking to BBC World Service's

  • Digital Planet:

  • People think about the web as a

  • technology but actually it's co-created

  • by society. We

  • put the content on, we interact with

  • the technology, with the platforms,

  • with the social media

  • networks to create it. What we study is

  • how that works as an ecosystem,

  • this coming together

  • of people and technology, and it's very

  • interdisciplinary, very socio-technical,

  • and of course these

  • days a lot of it is powered by AI.

  • Web Science is not only interested in the

  • technology side of the internet.

  • As a subject

  • it's very interdisciplinary - involving two

  • or more academic subjects or

  • areas of knowledge.

  • Web Science combines digital technology

  • with subjects ranging from

  • psychology and robotics

  • to economics and sociology.

  • Exchanges between humans and

  • the internet can be seen in

  • social media networks - websites,

  • apps and computer programmes, like

  • Facebook and Instagram,

  • which allow people to use electronic

  • devices to communicate and

  • share information.

  • This view of technology sees the internet

  • as an ecosystem - a complex

  • pattern of relationships

  • and mutual influences that exists

  • between all living things

  • and their environment.

  • One ongoing and topical example

  • of websites helpfully interacting

  • with humans is the Covid

  • contact tracing app.

  • You might think the mobile phone app,

  • which tracks movements

  • and contact between people

  • to combat coronavirus, would be a useful

  • practical application

  • of internet technology.

  • But as Carly Kind, Director of

  • the Ada Lovelace Institute in Cambridge,

  • explained to BBC World

  • Service's Digital Planet, things are never

  • that straightforward:

  • Actually, there's a lot of more

  • fundamental questions that

  • haven't been answered yet such

  • as: is Bluetooth even an adequate

  • mechanism for doing what it

  • says on the tin, which is

  • detecting contact between two people?

  • The trails so far show that it's not actually

  • that great and so, do we know for sure

  • that these apps work and

  • they work in the way we

  • want them to? Do we get the public health

  • information that we need?

  • Apps like this are designed to support

  • public health - services to

  • improve the standard

  • of health of a country's

  • general population.

  • But Carly thinks the mechanisms used

  • must be suitable and adequate - they

  • must actually

  • work or do what it says on the tin - an

  • informal idiom meaning work exactly

  • as it is intended to

  • To find this out, trials - tests to discover

  • how effective or suitable

  • something is - are

  • carried out over a period of time.

  • The kind of trials which were carried out

  • during the invention of the internet in the

  • first place, right, Neil?

  • Ah yes, the invention of the internet - or

  • to be more accurate, the

  • World Wide Web. In

  • our quiz question I asked you who

  • invented the World Wide Web?

  • What did you say, Sam?

  • I said b) Tim Berners-Lee.

  • Well, you're a first class web scientist,

  • Sam, because that's the correct answer!

  • Great! In this programme, we've been

  • hearing about Web Science,

  • a new interdisciplinary

  • subject, combining several areas of study,

  • which investigates the ecosystem

  • of the internet

  • - the complex pattern of interconnections

  • between humans and their environment.

  • Social media networks - websites and

  • apps, like Facebook, which let

  • people use electronic

  • devices to communicate on the internet -

  • show how humans and technology

  • can successfully

  • interact.

  • A new Covid contact tracing app is

  • currently undergoing trials - tests

  • to see if it works

  • effectively. This will discover if it does

  • what it says on the tin - works

  • as it's supposed to.

  • If successful, by alerting people to

  • coronavirus risks the app

  • will support public health - services

  • aimed at improving the health

  • of the general population.

  • And that's all from us for now.

  • And we hope you'll join us again soon for

  • more topical English vocabulary here at 6

  • Minute English. Bye for now!

  • Bye bye!

Hello. This is 6 Minute English from

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How can we make the web a better place? - 6 Minute English

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/11/01
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