Tetlow, Philip

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Tetlow, Philip

PERSONAL:

Male.

ADDRESSES:

E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

IBM, Global Business Services Division, Technical Consultancy Group (UK and Ireland), senior certified IT architect.

MEMBER:

World Wide Web Consortium.

WRITINGS:

The Web's Awake: An Introduction to the Field of Web Science and the Concept of Web Life, Wiley-IEEE Press (Hoboken, NJ), 2007.

SIDELIGHTS:

In The Web's Awake: An Introduction to the Field of Web Science and the Concept of Web Life, Philip Tetlow argues that the World Wide Web is evolving so rapidly and is becoming so complex that it will soon outstrip our ability to control it. Drawing on physics, biology, and chemistry as well on theories from mathematics and computing science, Tetlow compares the Web, which is the most complex social-technological system ever created, to the complexity of life itself. Indeed, in his view, the Web may be evolving into a new type of life form.

Noting that most specialists in Web science have studied Internet evolution from a mechanistic perspective rather than a sociotechnical one, Tetlow sets out to explore this relatively uncharted territory. Though he rejects some of the myth and folklore that has sprung up about the Internet as a living thing, Tetlow does believe that the universe presents us with endless new ways in which life can be defined. As he explains, many behaviors that have emerged on the Internet are not the result of programming; what's more, they exhibit striking similarities with organic life forms. This development, in his view, suggests that it may become possible to think of the Web as a new, post-human species. Among the concepts that Tetlow discusses in his book are various complex networks, including scale-free networks; symmetry and discreteness; positional information; the role that natural structures perform in human-made machines; and pos-thuman concepts. He also argues that, by thinking of the Web as a new type of living species, we can devise better ways to use it as a tool to benefit humanity.

P.L. Kantor, writing in Choice: Current Review for Academic Libraries, called The Web's Awake an "essential book for anyone interested in artificial life, artificial intelligence and information studies." Kantor also noted that the book is written in accessible language. Describing the book as "stringently researched and clearly presented," a writer for SirReadaLot.org hailed The Web's Awake as a "compelling and enjoyable read, enthralling and thought-provoking. … Whether readers' interests lie in computing, information technology, evolution, physics, or biology, the clearly written, plain-English arguments are fascinating material for thought."

A certified senior IT architect and member of IBM's Global Business Services Practice Technical Consultancy Group, Tetlow is also a chartered engineer and an open group master IT architect. He specializes in metadata, the application of Web-based technologies, and transformation techniques on large central government systems. A member of the World Wide Web Consortium, he has coordinated that organization's taskforce on the application of the semantic Web in software engineering. Tetlow has twice served on the International Semantic Web Conference's software engineering workshop.

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, October, 2007, P.L. Kantor, review of The Web's Awake: An Introduction to the Field of Web Science and the Concept of Web Life, p. 319.

SciTech Book News, June, 2007, review of The Web's Awake.

ONLINE

SirReadaLot.org,http://www.sirreadalot.org/ (February 25, 2008), review of The Web's Awake.

Web's Awake Web site,http://www.thewebsawake.com (February 25, 2008).