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Stanford, SLAC to host Sixth International World Wide Web Conference

Web browsers tired of Silicon Valley hype but eager to find out the latest in technology should be interested in the Sixth International World Wide Web Conference taking place in Santa Clara April 7-11.

At the academic gathering hosted by Stanford University and Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, world experts will present refereed papers that will later be published as proceedings, says co-organizer Christine Quinn.

"This is not a big trade show," she says. "These [people] are the trendsetters. What goes on at this conference will affect the future."

Bebo White, scientific programmer at SLAC, is working alongside Quinn. Michael Genesereth, Stanford associate professor of computer science, is chair of the program committee responsible for technical content.

"The World Wide Web is transforming the world, Genesereth says, "And this is the foremost computer conference for the Web. The world [has become] aware of the Web much faster than other technical innovations. It touches everything."

Quinn, Stanford's WWW coordinator, says the conference will stress accessibility with a theme of "Everyone Everything Connected." The event is expected to attract 3,000 people, with about one-third of delegates from abroad. Those who can't attend in person can take part in a "virtual conference" that will be held in conjunction with Computing in High Energy Physics (CHEP) in Berlin, Germany, and Hypertext 97 in Southampton, England.

Based at Santa Clara Convention Center, WWW6 will offer tutorials where participants can meet Web experts and learn how they do their jobs. Workshops with people who are pushing Web standards will be held to discuss new developments and there will be a meeting place for users groups called SuperBOFS (short for "birds of a feather") that will allow for group interaction. An exhibition will highlight the latest in Web technology.

Three days will be devoted to presenting papers and holding panel discussions. The last day, called Developer's Day, will highlight advances in standards and protocols concerning the Web, Quinn says.

"What's different about this conference is that a lot is available through ICE [interactive conference environment]," she says. "Everyone who signs up gets a home page that has a messaging component." This will allow people with similar interests to locate one another easily via these instant home pages.

The technical part of the conference that focuses on the "everyone" theme features keynote speaker Thomas Kalil, a senior director responsible for science and technology at the National Economic Council, a White House organization created to coordinate economic policy. Stanford alumna Mae Jemison, a former astronaut and now director of the Jemison Institute for Advancing Technology in Developing Countries at Dartmouth College, will discuss accessibility for disabled people and those with low incomes.

The conference's "everything" component includes Raj Reddy, dean of the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University and a former assistant professor at Stanford. Michael L. Dertouzos, director of the Laboratory for Computer Science at MIT, will discuss the future of information access.

The "connected" theme features Howard Rheingold, founding editor of HotWired, the online version of Wired magazine. He will discuss how new technologies will promote what he calls the "social Web," enabling solitary Websurfing to evolve into group interaction.

On the final day, Tim Berners-Lee, inventor o