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On June 11, leading authorities on the World Wide Web will gather at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute for an old-fashioned debate with a social media twist. The questions for discussion will be shaped and selected by the collective wisdom of Web users from around the world.

Tetherless World Research Constellation, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

After delivering a keynote address, Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the Web, will join a panel of experts from academia and industry for a public discussion about the Web’s future. The content of the debate will be collaboratively created by Web users, who can submit questions and promote them through a user-based ranking system, similar to the community-based news site Digg. The most popular questions will drive the discussion at the June 11 debate.

The public debate, which will be streamed live via an interactive Webcast, is part of a daylong event to celebrate the launch of the Tetherless World Constellation at Rensselaer – a new academic center devoted to the emerging field of Web Science.
A wide range of issues are up for discussion, from sustaining the usefulness of the current Web to creating a next-generation Semantic Web, as well as the role of politics, education, and sociological factors in the Web’s continued evolution. Following introductory remarks by Rensselaer President Shirley Ann Jackson, participants in the panel will be:

  • Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the Web and director of the World Wide Web Consortium.
  • Wendy Hall, vice president of the Association for Computing Machinery and senior vice president of the Royal Academy of Engineering.
  • Nigel Shadbolt, former president of the British Computer Society and chief technology officer of Garlik.
  • Nova Spivack, high-tech entrepreneur and founder of Radar Networks.
  • Deborah McGuinness, Web language expert and Rensselaer Constellation Professor of the Tetherless World Constellation.
  • James Hendler, one of the inventors of the Semantic Web and Rensselaer Constellation Professor of the Tetherless World Constellation (moderator).

Members of the public are invited to submit and vote on questions until the day of the debate. During the discussion, viewers will be able to interact with the panelists by submitting follow-up questions and comments in real time. For details about this innovative event and how you can participate in the discussion, go to: http://tw.rpi.edu/launch.

Since its inception, the Web has changed the ways people work, play, communicate, collaborate, and educate, according to James Hendler, Constellation Professor of the Tetherless World Constellation at Rensselaer. There is, however, a growing realization among researchers across a number of disciplines that without new research aimed at understanding the current, evolving, and potential Web, opportunities for new and revolutionary capabilities may be missed or delayed.

“If we want to be able 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.

The Tetherless World Constellation will address this emerging area of Web Science, focusing on the Web and its future use. Faculty in the constellation will explore the research and engineering principles that underlie the Web, will enhance the Web’s reach beyond the desktop and laptop computer, and will develop new technologies and languages that expand the capabilities of the Web. They will use powerful scientific and mathematical techniques from many disciplines to explore the modeling of the Web from network- and information-centric views.

“Our goals will include making the next generation Web natural to use while being responsive to the growing variety of policy and social needs, whether in the area of privacy, intellectual property, general compliance, or provenance,” Hendler said. For more information about the Tetherless World Constellation, go to: http://tw.rpi.edu.

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MySpace, the world’s most popular social network, alongside Yahoo!, eBay, Photobucket, and Twitter, today announced the launch of the MySpace ‘Data Availability’ initiative, a ground-breaking offering to empower the global MySpace community to share their public profile data to websites of their choice throughout the Internet. Today’s announcement throws open the doors to traditionally closed networks by putting users in the driver’s seat of their data and Web identity. The launch of the Data Availability initiative marks the first time that a social Website has enabled its community to dynamically share public profile information with other sites.

MySpace Data Availability on Twitter.

“The walls around the garden are coming down-the implementation of Data Availability injects a new layer of social activity and creates a more dynamic Internet,” said Chris DeWolfe, CEO and co-founder of MySpace. “We, alongside our Data Availability launch partners, are pioneering a new way for the global community to integrate their social experiences Web-wide.”

Data Availability – User Interface

Data Availability pioneers a new way for users to dynamically share their user generated content and data with websites of their choosing. The Data Availability initiative is founded first and foremost on the simple and comprehensive user control of their own content and data – users will have control over what information they share and who they share it with.

Additionally, rather than updating information across the Web (eg. default photo, favorite movies or music) for each site where a user spends time, now a user can update their profile in one place and dynamically share that information with the other sites they care about. MySpace will be rolling out a centralized location within the site that allows users to manage how their content and data is made available to third party sites they have chosen to engage with.

Inside this opt-in framework, they will be offered the opportunity to share their MySpace profiles with the site they are visiting. MySpace, and its landmark launch partners, will be allowing users to dynamically share the content and data of their choosing including: (1) Publicly available basic profile information, (2) MySpace photos, (3) MySpaceTV videos, and (4) friend networks. Integration of the Data Availability project will roll to MySpace users and participating Websites in the coming weeks.

“The launch of Data Availability is an unprecedented move to further socialize the Web and empower users to control their online content and data,” said Amit Kapur, Chief Operating Officer, MySpace. “We are thrilled to begin this initiative with a world class suite of landmark partners and invite websites around the world to participate.”

Partner Website Functionality

Data Availability is about enriching existing Internet destinations with social functionality and valuable pre-existing user generated content and data.  By empowering users with the ability to dynamically share, those destinations will create deeper levels of social engagement and new functionality throughout their site. As the online home to 117 million users worldwide, this groundbreaking initiative enables the larger Web to leverage the highly engaged and passionate MySpace global community.

To ease implementation for participating sites, the MySpace Data Availability initiative uses OAUTH and Restful APIs as its core technology underpinnings. MySpace is using open standards in an effort to embrace the open source community and allow the implementation to be as non-proprietary as possible. Today’s announcement is the first step of MySpace’s larger data portability initiatives coming down the pipeline. MySpace is officially joining the Data Portability Project demonstrating our continued commitment to openness and open standards.

Data Availability on Yahoo!

MySpace’s Data Availability complements Yahoo!’s recently announced Yahoo! Open Strategy (Y!OS), a company-wide initiative to open Yahoo! to application developers, unlock the rich social connections across the Yahoo! network, and enable users to customize and make more personally relevant their experiences of Yahoo! and other Internet services.

On Yahoo!, the Data Availability initiative may appear to users in a variety of ways.  For example, users that have chosen to share their MySpace content and data with Yahoo! Instant Messenger might find their MySpace default photo, interests, and favorite music displayed to their Messenger contacts directly in the IM client.  Additionally, MySpace users will be able to choose to display their data within Yahoo!’s universal profile or leverage it in Yahoo! Mail’s smarter inbox, once those upcoming releases are deployed.

“Yahoo! believes in an open Internet that gives users the flexibility to make their Web experiences as relevant, social and personalized as they can.  As a longtime collaborator with MySpace on a variety of projects, including the OpenSocial Foundation, we’re thrilled to support this new initiative,” said Ash Patel, Executive Vice President, Platforms, at Yahoo!.  “The Yahoo! Open Strategy and MySpace Data Availability are a giant leap towards a more social and open Internet.”

Data Availability on eBay

Through the MySpace Data Availability implementation, eBay profiles can be easily enhanced with MySpace bios, interests, pictures, and videos. In a socially driven marketplace, this will yield a deeper connection between individuals. When browsing or transacting on eBay, the availability of external social information can help users make good decisions quickly about whom they can do business with, and perhaps even make a new friend.

“The MySpace Data Availabilityinitiative will further enrich eBay profiles and create a more elaborate social experience for buyers and sellers worldwide,” said Matt Ackley, VP of Internet Marketing of eBay.  “As the world’s largest social commerce site, eBay is dedicated to creating a social context and personality for the people with whom you transact.”

Data Availability on Photobucket

MySpace’s Data Availability initiative will allow Photobucket users to enjoy a more seamless photo experience with their MySpace profile.  Photobucket users will be able to have a single view of their photos across multiple services, as well as opt-in to displaying their MySpace profile data in their Photobucket albums.  Users will also be able to leverage their existing connections on MySpace to share their content on Photobucket more easily, without having to re-establish connections and friend lists.

“MySpace users invest a huge amount of time populating their profile and personal interest data.  With the large overlap in users, the Data Availability initiative will allow Photobucket to utilize this profile data to enhance its own products,” said Alex Welch, President of Photobucket.  “The combination of the Data Availability initiative and the recently announced Photobucket Open-API provides new opportunities to create a more open web”

Data Availability on Twitter

Twitter profiles at present are primarily focused on current updates and are relatively sparse on user information. The MySpace Data Availability initiative enriches the current Twitter profile by empowering users to incorporate their MySpace profile content and data points previously not included in the Twitter product suite.  Once the implementation is complete, a user will be able to bring in their MySpace content and data including their bio, blogs, and photos, ultimately making the Twitter site a more enriching site with content previously unavailable in its interface.

“Finding friends to follow is central to Twitter’s value as a real-time communication utility.” Says Biz Stone, Co-founder, Twitter. “This project enhances discovery and connectivity making Twitter more relevant and useful-we’re very excited.”

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