Tim Berners-Lee, the closest thing we have to an “inventor” of the web as we know it today, is calling for more integrated, broad studies of the internet rather than the mostly piecemeal academic work being done now. He’s right. The internet is arguablly the most profound change in human communication in history, and it’s just getting started. As social networking explodes into the dominant socializing mechanism for humans we are experiencing many new opportunities and many challenges, especially as the online environments create new relationships between people, generations, and cultures.
Universities would be well advised to heed this call from Berners-Lee and offer more “web centric” courses, but more importantly academics should be spending a lot more time studying the complex, changing structure of the web. The technical aspects of the internet are fairly well studied in commercial circles. The sociological side is poorly/rarely studied in academia and the commercial sector is still struggling to understand the implications of the massive shift of human activity online.