Is Gordon Brown Right To Spend £30 Million On Institute Of Web Science?

"People say funny things when elections are looming", this is how Paul Marks of NewScientist qualified Gordon Brown's statement yesterday that fast internet access, commonly known as broadband, is now the modern day equivalent of electricity.

The British Prime Minister had announced that the government would be pouring in £30 million to fund a UK-based Institute of Web Science that would be ran by the Universities of Southampton and Oxford and would be headed by Tim Berners Lee and Nigel Shadbolt.

Paul Marks astutely remarks that the pair already lead a body called the Web Science Trust which has offices in the University of Southampton.

Coincidentally, the University of Oxford also runs the Oxford Internet Institute and it is not clear whether these two entities will be involved in the IOWS.

Beyond this though, The Register has perhaps been the most critical because, after all, it is taxpayers who will be footing for that Andrew Orlowski describes as a project headed by two "groups of people with a shared interest in bureaucracy".

Berners-Lee and Shadbolt were the brains behind the Data.gov.uk website that was launched earlier this year, a move that was welcomed by many as being innovative compared to what was done elsewhere, with more than 2,500 data sets and 40 apps.

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Brown has already announced another scheme that see the introduction of a 50p monthly levy on all household phone lines in the UK, one which will bring around £200 million for the government, a tax that the Tories have vowed to eliminate if they come to power.

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Greatest Living Briton gets £30m for 'web science'

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