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Blackett Memorial Lecture 2017


The Society is pleased to announce that the 2017 Blackett Memorial Lecture will be given by

Professor Sir Nigel Shadbolt

Principal of Jesus College, Oxford and Professorial Research
Fellow in Computer Science at the University of Oxford

on Thursday 23 November 2017



Towards a Science of the Web

During the past 20 years, humans have built the largest information fabric in history. The World Wide Web has been transformational. People shop, date, trade and communicate with one another using it. Although most people are not formally trained in its use, yet it has assumed a central role in their lives. Over the past few years, there has been a growing recognition that the ecosystem that is the Web needs to be treated as an important and coherent area of study—this is Web science.

Understanding the Web will have wide-reaching implications and is on a par with other great scientific challenges such as understanding the climate, our biological nature or the larger Universe. Web science is a new and emergent discipline that is developing its own methods and techniques. But just as with climate science or life science, it must be interdisciplinary drawing insights from mathematics, physics, computer science, psychology, ecology, sociology but also law, political science, economics and more.  If we are to anticipate how the Web will develop we will require insight into our own nature. Web science is not only a new frontier it is an endeavour that will bring together a new generation of enquiring minds. This talk will review the emergence of Web Science, some of the questions it is seeking to understand, review a number of the methods and techniques it deploys, discuss the insights already obtained and the challenges outstanding.


Sir Nigel Shadbolt is Professor of Computer Science at the University of Oxford and Principal of Jesus College. He is also the Chairman and Co-Founder of the Open Data Institute (ODI). In 2009, Sir Nigel was appointed Information Adviser to the UK Government, helping transform public access to Government information, including the widely acclaimed site.

With over 500 publications he researches and publishes on computer science, artificial intelligence, open data and web science. During his career, he has also worked in philosophy, psychology and linguistics. Since 2000 he has secured 17 projects as Principal Investigator with a value of over £20 million pounds. He is currently Principal Investigator on a £6.14M EPSRC funded Programme Grant researching the theory of social machines - Web scale problem solving systems comprising large numbers of humans and computers.

In 2006 he was one of three founding Directors of Garlik Ltd, which in 2008 was awarded Technology Pioneer status by the Davos World Economic Forum and won the prestigious UK national BT Flagship Award. Garlik was acquired by Experian Ltd in 2011. In 2013 he was awarded a Knighthood for services to science and engineering. He is a member of the GDS (Government Digital Services) Advisory Board. At the request of the Government he recently chaired a Review of Computer Sciences Accreditation and Employability. In 2015 the Chancellor asked him to Co-Chair the UK French Data Taskforce.

Thursday 23 November 2017
Lecture at 4.30pm
IET London: Savoy Place, London.

(Tea and biscuits at 4.00pm; Drinks reception 6.00-7.00pm after the lecture)

There is no charge for attendance at this event. 
Registration is compulsory and open to members and non-members.


If you have any queries, please contact Hilary Wilkes on

For information on the 2016 Lectures and see the talk, take a look under the 'Watch / Listen / Download' tab.