Exploring the web

I wrote a post on the Guardian‘s Comment is Free Blog about the newly-announced partnership between MIT and the University of Southampton to study “Web science”. Extract:

Ah, poor Southampton (or Soton, as it’s known on the net). It’s about to learn that entering into a “partnership” with MIT is like marrying into the British royal family. As Ry Cooder might put it, you get to ride in the white Lincoln Continental with the red upholstery, but you must learn always to walk two paces behind your “partner” and never, ever assume that you have any rights to the fawning and adulation that followed upon your elevation. MIT doesn’t do partnerships in the normally understood sense of the term; what it does do are pragmatic or strategic liaisons that are deemed to be in its institutional interests. Ask the ancient University of Cambridge, which knows a thing or two about this. Gordon Brown put up £64 million of UK taxpayers’ money to lubricate a partnership between Cambridge and MIT. Guess who got the lion’s share of the loot?