(authored by Prabhakar Raghavan, Yahoo!, plenary speaker)

I’ve been at Yahoo! for close to two years, aiming to build up a world-class research organization and expand our strengths beyond computer science to areas such as microeconomics and sociology. We are charged with developing the sciences that will deliver the next generation of business to Yahoo!, while helping to shape the future of the Web.

Yahoo! is in a nascent market, one where most of the technical and market action is still to come. The challenges we face do not have ready-made solutions – there is no common notion of the “sciences underlying the Web?, or of the tools and techniques needed to address the grand challenges of our industry.

We must therefore ask: to develop the future of online interactive media, what sciences must we develop today? Do we identify and expand existing scientific disciplines, or do we try to build new ones that are not currently pursued at academic institutions? Are these disciplines centered on computer science, or should other disciplines be incorporated?

In my talk “Web N.0: What sciences will it take?? on May 10, I hope to develop answers to these questions; these sciences appear to be a blend of the old and the new, of computer science and of the social sciences.