IT and business leaders look to future as global web conference comes to Edinburgh

The global World Wide Web Conference (WWW2006) in Edinburgh from 23-26 May is set to be one of the most influential IT events in the UK this year.

The global World Wide Web Conference (WWW2006) in Edinburgh from 23-26 May is set to be one of the most influential IT events in the UK this year.

This annual conference, which takes place in a different country each year, comes to the UK at a crucial time in the development of the web and aims to showcase the new wave of web-based technology.

The conference has been organised for the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) in the UK by the School of Electronics & Computer Science at Southampton University in conjunction with the British Computer Society.

Computer Weekly is the media sponsor for the event, which will be attended by about 2,000 delegates from around the world. It will provide a forum where IT directors, business decision makers, web specialists and techies can meet the people making the decisions about the future of the web.

Keynote speakers at the event include director of the World Wide ConsortiumTim Berners-Lee, Nato's director of policy planning, Jamie Shea, chairman of the UK National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence Michael Rawlins, executive vice-chairman and founder of online bank Egg Mike Harris, and senior figures from Reuters, Nortel, Motorola, Microsoft, RM and Reed  Elsevier.

The conference is broken down into four one-day themed sessions. The first day will focus on the web's impact on business, looking especially at the impact of web-based innovation on advertising, publishing and the media, as well as e-commerce and on traditional business.

The second day will focus on the next wave of web technologies such as the Semantic Web, the mobile/pervasive web, and their impact on applications. Delegates will also hear about the impact of the web on networks, devices and interfaces, including browsing technologies.

The final two days will focus on security and on what steps are being taken to ensure that the web is secure. There will also be a focus on the impact of the web on education and science, as well as the impact on health, both for healthcare professionals and patients.

Attendees can expect to hear  about what is going on behind the scenes to provide a richer user experience to the web. One such area, for example, is where the W3C is developing standards that support web interaction through the eyes, ears, voice and touch.

They will also be brought up to date with W3C's work to enable the "ubiquitous web" to become reality - this is a series of standards and recommendations designed to make the web more easily accessible to mobile devices. In this area W3C is building a database of device descriptions and developing best practices for the creation of mobile-friendly websites.

On security, the W3C is exploring ways to give users and service providers more confidence in online transactions and provide easier identity management.

The conference is also likely to hear about advances in managing the huge amount of data thrown up by the web through what the W3C calls the Semantic Web. The Semantic Web provides a common framework that allows data to be shared and reused  across application, enterprise and community boundaries.

The wider context of the web will also feature at the conference, for example the Web Accessibility Initiative, which sets out guidelines to help the disabled access the web.

Conference details

Organiser The World Wide Web Conference is organised by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and has been held annually since 1994. This year the conference will be hosted in the UK for the first time.

Date 23-26 May 2006

Venue Edinburgh International Conference Centre

Speakers Speakers will include world wide web founder Tim Berners-Lee, Michael Rawlins, chairman of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, and Mike Harris, executive vice-chairman and founder of internet bank Egg.

The conference will showcase the new wave of capability predicted to transform online activity. Attendees will hear about progress on delivery of the "ubiquitous web" and developments such as standards that support interactive voice technology for a richer user experience. Business is set to play a key role in the progression of the web and the conference will also feature senior executives from Reuters, Google, Microsoft, Motorola and Reed Elsevier.

Who should attend? Anyone who is interested in seeking out new ideas, technologies and strategies to exploit the potential of the online world.

The World Wide Web Consortium

The W3C is a global organisation founded and run by world wide web inventor Tim Berners-Lee to ensure that the web is available and accessible to everyone, regardless of their hardware, software, network infrastructure, language, culture or geographical location.

Members of the W3C include most major IT suppliers and many large corporate user organisations, whose technical experts work together to decide the future direction of the web.

"Our members work together to design and standardise web technologies that build on its universality, giving the power to communicate, exchange information and to write effective, dynamic applications for anyone, anywhere, anytime, using any device," said Berners-Lee.

Key areas of work include web accessibility, internationalisation, and device independence. The W3C aims to make the web as simple, easy and convenient to use on a range of mobile devices as it is from the desktop. As a result, the W3C is working to ensure that all types of mobile phones, PDAs, interactive television systems, voice response systems and even certain domestic appliances can all access the web.

Another area the W3C team is working on is developing the web's vast database potential to solve problems that would otherwise be too time-consuming or complex.

One of the long-term goals of the W3C is to promote technologies that enable a more collaborative environment.

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