Please contact us if you are interested in working with us to support the global development of Web Science. This could involve applying to join our network of labs (WSTNet), helping with the development of the Web Observatory, or any other projects that we showcased at WebScience@10.
Trust and the Web: Bill Thompson, Professor Dame Wendy Hall, Professor Sir Nigel Shadbolt, Doc Searles, Liz Brandt and Matt McNeill discuss if and how we can trust the Web.
Web Science at the Cutting Edge: Professor Leslie Carr (Chair), Dr Pete Burnap (Cardiff University), Professor Dave De Roure (Oxford e-Research Centre), Professor Yi-Ke Guo (Data Science Institute), Professor Susan Halford (Web Science Institute) and Dr Jie Tang (Tsinghua University) discuss the latest in Web Science research.
For the 2016 US Presidential election, researchers at the University of Southampton with support from the EPSRC funded project SOCIAM, built a real-time data visualization that combined traditional polling data with social media posts. The application was built and designed for the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute EMPAC Campfire, a novel multi-user, collaborative, immersive, computing interface that consist of a desk height panoramic screen and floor projection that users gather around and look into. The application is also a part of the Web Macroscope (a visualization platform developed at the University of Southampton) and uses data from the Southampton Web Observatory.
Data collection for the polling data was taking from the Huffington Post Pollster API, which collects all the popular polls and their results. The social media data was collected on Twitter, using both their Streaming and Search API. The Streaming API was used to create a stream of data that included 1% of all tweets that had any of the popular and official hashtags and words used by each campaign to show support for their candidate. This hashtag list included tags like ‘TeamTrump’, ‘maga’, ‘TeamTrump’, and ’draintheswamp’ in support for Donald Trump, and ‘LoveTrumpsHate’, ‘ImWithHer’, ‘StrongerTogether’, and ‘WhyIWantHillary’ in support for Hillary Clinton. Any tweets that mixed hashtags and words from both candidates were removed as this was normally done in a way to not show support for a candidate, but to react to supporters on the other side.
Results from the visualizations showed different levels of support on Twitter for each candidates over time. In the days leading to the election on November 8th, tweets in support for Trump were 1.5 times greater than those in support for Clinton. Interestingly, on the day of the election, this ratio switched and levelled off. Around the 2pm EST on November 8th, tweets in support for Clinton were almost equal to the number of tweets supporting Trump. Later in the night of the election, the ratio of support changed again, with tweets in support of Trump being 1.14 times larger than those in support for Clinton.
Another interesting result from the data, was the how many tweets that had geographic information tagged to them were overwhelmingly in support for Clinton throughout the day leading and on the election. Most tweets streamed through the visualization had no GPS lat/long data embedded in them (these tweets often come from mobile phones using the Twitter App, with the optional GSP location data option enabled). As a whole, these geographic tweets are a small minority of the data collected from the Twitter Stream (about 1%). Interestingly, these geographic tweets supported Clinton 15 times more than Trump. Why this is the case is hard to say. It looks like Clinton supporters use mobile apps with location data more than Trump supporters.
15 highly-respected computer scientists and security experts who came together to outline how law enforcement’s proposed requirement for “backdoor” access to all encrypted files would actually make the Internet more vulnerable to crime and deception were recognized for their work today with the M3AAWG 2015 J.D. Falk Award. “Keys Under Doormats: Mandating Insecurity by Requiring Government Access to All Data and Communications” explains how the government’s request for a system that would allow it to access any secured file would set back Internet security, raise legal and ethical questions, and be impractical to implement.
The report cites three general problems:
Providing exceptional access would impede the best practices currently being deployed to make the Internet more secure, including deleting encryption keys immediately after use and using keys to authenticate that a message has not been manipulated or forged.
A new surveillance ecosystem built to accommodate exceptional access would substantially increase system complexity, be less secure and be susceptible to operator errors that could put millions of end-users at risk.
The existence of an additional pathway to access encrypted data would create concentrated targets, attracting cybercriminals and endangering end-users and commerce.
Respected Computer Scientists and Security Experts
The authors are accomplished security experts from a range of academia, research and business who add a variety of perspectives to the report:
Harold Abelson, MIT professor of electrical engineering and computer science, IEEE fellow and a founding director of both Creative Commons and the Free Software Foundation
Ross Anderson, University of Cambridge professor of security engineering
Steven M. Bellovin, Columbia University professor of computer science
Josh Benaloh, Microsoft Research senior cryptographer researching verifiable election protocols and related technologies
Matt Blaze, associate professor of computer and information science at the University of Pennsylvania where he directs the Distributed Systems Lab
Whitfield Diffie, an American cryptographer whose 1975 discovery of the concept of public-key cryptography opened up the possibility of secure, Internet-scale communications
John Gilmore, entrepreneur and civil libertarian, an early employee of Sun Microsystems, and co-founder of Cygnus Solutions, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Cypherpunks, and the Internet’s alt newsgroup
Matthew Green, research professor at the Johns Hopkins University Information Security Institute focusing on cryptographic privacy techniques and new techniques for deploying secure messaging protocols
Peter G. Neumann, senior principal scientist at the SRI International Computer Science Lab and moderator of the ACM Risks Forum for thirty years
Susan Landau, professor of cybersecurity policy at Worcester Polytechnic Institute and author of two books on the subject
Ronald L. Rivest, MIT Institute Professor, co-inventor of the RSA public-key cryptosystem, and founder of RSA Security and Verisign
Jeffrey I. Schiller, Internet Engineering Steering Group Area Director for Security from 1994 to 2003
Bruce Schneier, fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, Harvard University, and author of numerous books
Michael A. Specter, security researcher and Computer Science Ph.D. candidate at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory
Daniel J. Weitzner, principal research scientist at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab, Founding Director of the MIT Cybersecurity and Internet Policy Research Initiative, United States Deputy Chief Technology Officer in the White House (2011-2012)
Lead by WST board member Anni Rowland-Campbell the latest WO in a World-Wide Web of Observatories (W3O) went live in Australia thanks to hard work of the joint team from the University of South Australia (UNSA) and WSTnet member the University of Southampton. This is a government-lead observatory project looking at the issue of ageing population and how evidence-based policy can be informed through the use of Observatory technologies.
Our members and partners who have shared information about the systems, datasets and groups that are working with Web Observatories are now part of an automated discovery process (or “crawl”) using schema.org.
The essence of taking part in the Web Observatory is three-fold:
Describe some/all of your web datasets, projects, and/or tools in metadata
Maintain a service to notify other systems/crawlers of the metadata
Participate in ongoing discussions to continue to advance the scope and quality of the Web Observatory eco-system
The sharing can be done in a number of ways:
Share datasets indirectly with other Web Observatories
Download/install existing Web Observatory software
Extended your existing system to add Observatory features
Share datasets with other Web Observatories
Sharing an existing dataset is easy using the recently accepted schema.org extension in which a small amount of markup is added to the pages containing links to the datasets you are sharing allowing standard search engines to discover them. Alternatively you can list your dataset on our portal (you must create an account to do this).
Click here and also here to find out more about the schema.org WO extension
Download/install existing WO software
Members of the Web Science Trust network of Labs (WSTnet) will be offering a number of open source Web Observatory platforms and tool for download. The first available Web Observatory system is available from University of Southampton so please click here to register your name/contact details to be contacted about a Web Observatory installation for your organisation.
Extended your existing system to add Observatory features
We anticipate that some organisations will want to integrate their existing system to publish and consume data from the Web Observatory eco-system. WST will be publishing papers and technical guidance over the coming months. Please click here to register your name/contact details to be contacted about a Web Observatory integration for your organisation.
We look forward to welcoming you to this exciting project.
A short non-technical talk by Ian Brown from the Web Science Trust introduces the growth in size and complexity of the Web and the need to observe and understand these changes through the use of a tool known as Web Observatory
One of the key objectives of the Web Observatory will be to enable the discovery and sharing of data sets and tools with other Observatories and we are indebted to Prof Jim Hendler’s group at RPI for their work in developing a schema.org extension designed to enable this important feature.
The main wiki entry for the proposal is:
and the Web Observatory Schema is at
For those unfamiliar with schema.org there is an introduction available from the Cetis website
After a series of projects and collaborations with Soton Web Science students and support for a number of UK events around the Web Observatory, SWITCH Concepts have become an official sponsor of the Web Observatory project.
Switch works closely with Southampton University’s Web Science Faculty to develop future leaders in technology. We hire and develop the best people in the industry to ensure that Switch remains at the sharpest possible edge of ad technology.
The Switch RTB Adserver allows premium buyers, exchanges, the Real-time Market and networks to compete simultaneously alongside any other available sources of demand. As a result, the Switch RTB Adserver works like an auction house; every demand source bids at the same time, and the gavel lands for the person who bids the most – delivering the best possible price, every time.