ACM Web Science Conference concludes

On June 14th-17th, the Third International ACM Web Science Conference was held in the city of Koblenz, Germany, for the first time as an ACM conference. As with the first two conferences, held in Athens and Raleigh, NC, there were great papers, posters and discussions. And again as before, Twitter and social networks were important resources of data and sources of problems for Web Science; other topics that loomed large were hacktivism, cybercrime and cyberwarfare, online trust, the Web as a learning tool, and the Web as a means for recording or retrieving aspects of our lives. Of the 198 submissions from 30 countries, 17 were selected for long presentations, and a further 15 were given demanding shorter slots. Three workshops on the Web Science Curriculum, Health Web Science and Altmetrics, preceded the conference as a whole, and a lively poster session demonstrated not only how many facets of life are now affected or influenced by the Web, but also how many relevant and fruitful approaches there are to its study. Illuminating keynotes were given by Jaime Teevan of Microsoft, who showed how keeping a record of changes in a webpage could tell us interesting things about our evolving interests while more practically helping improve search, and sociologist Barry Wellman, who explained how we are embedding ourselves, and finding meaning in our lives, from increasingly many overlapping social networks, with the help of technology. Barry’s message in particular was an important corrective to a recent trend toward techno-pessimism.

In a short ceremony to wrap up a hugely enjoyable conference, a very close-run ‘best paper’ award had to be shared between ‘Sic Transit Gloria Mundi Virtuali? Promise and Peril in the Computational Social Science of Clandestine Organizing’ by Brian Keegan et al from Northwestern University, the University of Minnesota and the University of Southern California, and ‘The Effect of User Features on Churn in Social Networks’ by Marcel Karnstedt et al from DERI Galway and the Open University. As well as these two, ‘Negotiating the Web Science Curriculum through Shared Educational Artefacts’ by Su White et al was singled out for special mention.

The best poster was ‘Asymmetric Cyber-warfare between Israel and Hezbollah: The Web as a new strategic battlefield’ by Sabine Saad et al from Saint-Joseph University, Beirut. The final task fell to Wendy Hall of the Web Science Trust, and Ethan Munson, chair of the ACM SIGWEB, to announce that the Fourth International ACM Web Science Conference would be chaired by Noshir Contractor of Northwestern University, USA, and would be held in Evanston IL on June 22nd–24th 2012.

The PDFs of all the papers and posters can be found at http://www.websci11.org/program/

ACM WebSci’11: Video Lectures are now available online http://videolectures.net/acmwebsci2011_koblenz/