The Web must be studied as an entity in its
own right to ensure it keeps flourishing
and prevent unanticipated social effects.
BY JameS henDLeR, niGeL ShaDBoLt, WenDY haLL,
tim BeRneRS-Lee, anD DanieL WeitzneR
DESPITE THE WEB’S great success as a technology and
the significant amount of computing infrastructure on
which it is built, it remains, as an entity, surprisingly
unstudied. here, we look at some of the technical and
social challenges that must be overcome to model the
Web as a whole, keep it growing, and understand its
continuing social impact. A systems approach, in the
sense of “systems biology,” is needed if we are to be
able to understand and engineer the future Web.