Category Archives: Web Science Blog

Web Science Summer School 2017

Summer School participants with their completion certificates.
Summer School  participants with their completion certificates.

This years’ Web Science Summer School – organised by the Web Science Trust and two Russian universities (HSE and ITMO) – was a great success, and plans are in progress for next years’ event at the L3S Research Center in Germany. The School was held from 1 to 8 Julyat St. Petersburg, and during the week we held keynotes, tutorials and project work. Subjects included: Introduction to Web Science, Multimedia analysis, Digital health and online interventions, Risky content detection online, Online gaming, Cities online and, Online experiments for psychology and wider social science.

Our MD Professor Dame Wendy Hall with Olessia Koltsova, Associate Professor at HSE, St Petersburg
Our MD, Professor Dame Wendy Hall with Olessia Koltsova, Associate Professor in Internet Studies at HSE, St Petersburg


Summer School participants at workAs promotion of interdisciplinary communication and collaboration is a key goal of the school, teams were formed of students from different disciplines. Participants worked on specific tasks linked to the datasets provided, and were mentored by local instructors. All teams presented the results of their work on the last day of the school.

DSC09325Participants also presented posters about their current work.  As well as poster submission, participation in the School was also conditional upon delivering a successful team work presentation.

The School also included cultural and social activities, and a final day keynote lecture from a leading Russian Internet industry speaker.

Next years’ Summer School will be hosted by the L3S Research Center in Hannover, Germany. We hope to see you there!

WWSSS'17 poster session
WWSSS’17 poster session


Debrett’s honours Web Science Trust Managing Director

Debretts honours Professor Dame Wendy HallOur Managing Director, Professor Dame Wendy Hall joins Jimmy Wales (Co-Founder, Wikipedia), and Baroness Martha Lane-Fox, (Founder of the Internet educational charity, Doteveryone and contributor to our recent WebScience@10 TV Channel), along with many other luminaries in this years’ Debrett’s 500 list.

Described as ‘a leading light in the development of web services’, Dame Wendy is recognised by Debrett’s for her pioneering role as one of the first computer scientists to embark on serious research into multi- and hyper-media technologies before the existence of the World Wide Web. A Professor of Computer Science within Electronics & Computer Science, Dame Wendy also draws praise as a founding director of the the Web Science Trust, alongside Web pioneer, and WST Senior Fellow, Sir Tim Berners-Lee.

Compiled in consultation with independent expert practitioners and commentators in each of the categories, The Debrett’s 500 was launched in 2014 to identify and celebrate the most influential people in British society. All the people in the Debrett’s 500 are scrutinised for their level of influence in shaping the lives, choices and ideas of others. Dame Wendy has featured in every Debrett’s 500 list since its launch.

WSTNet Web Science Summer School 2017 – St Petersburg, Russia

This years’ Web Science Network (WSTNet) Summer School (WWSSS17) is being held from July 1 to July 8, 2017 at St. Petersburg, Russia. Organised by the Web Science Trust and the National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE), Moscow, and ITMO University, St Petersburg, the School includes keynotes from:

Wendy Hall
Professor Dame Wendy Hall, Managing Director, Web Science Trust

Professor Tat-Seng Chua
Professor Tat-Seng Chua, National University of Singapore

Professor Jeremy Wyatt
Professor Jeremy Wyatt, Wessex Institute of Health & Research, UK

Dr Pete Burnap
Dr Pete Burnap, Cardiff University, UK

As well as lectures tackling major trends in Web Science, the Summer School provides hands-on training in data processing, analysis and methods, team work, and opportunities to present current research. Participants work on specific tasks linked to the datasets provided, and will be mentored by local instructors. All teams will present the results of their work on the last day of the school.

For more information see the WWSSS17 website.

Data Governance in Finance

John TaysomWeb Science Trust Board member, John Taysom writes on the Importance of Data Governance, with Special Reference to Finance in a recent Royal Society and British Academy publication. The report, Connecting debates on the governance of data and its uses, brings together contributions from leading representatives from academia, government and business; including experts in ethics, law, finance, social and data sciences, machine learning and statistics in order to build connections between existing debates, and identify key questions and gaps.

Download the report pdf 

The Academies have initiated a project examining new uses of data and their implications, and reviewing the data governance landscape. The project will make recommendations for cross-sectoral governance arrangements that can ensure the UK remains a world leader in this area.

Two globally-renowned research institutes join WST Network

WSTNet – The Web Science Network of Laboratories – is delighted to announce that two globally-renowned research institutes have joined the network this month.

The Data Science Institute at Imperial College, London, and the Institut National de Recherche en Informatique et en Automatique (INRIA) both become full members of WSTNet, demonstrating the growing reach of the Network, and the long-term global significance of its collaborative focus in Web Science and Data Science.

The Data Science Institute at Imperial College is at the forefront of research in data science, working across Imperial College to support the deployment of cutting-edge technologies in wide-reaching data-driven research. The Institute hopes to expand its collaborations with the Web Science community, in particular to explore the value of big data technology for applications in social machines.

INRIA, the French National Institute for Computer Science and Applied Mathematics, promotes scientific excellence for technology transfer and society. INRIA’s 2600 employees – graduates from the world’s leading universities – rise to the challenges of digital sciences. With its open, agile model, INRIA is able to explore original approaches with its partners in industry and academic research, providing an effective response to the multidisciplinary and application challenges of digital transformation.

Established in 2010, the Web Science Network of Laboratories brings together some of the world’s outstanding academic researchers, based in 20 leading research institutes around the world. WSTNet aims to advance global research and education, outreach to industry, and the exchange of ideas. It supports collaborative research and education programmes, facilitates the exchange of researchers and graduate students, runs conferences, workshops and symposia, and aims fundamentally to advance the study and engineering of the Web for the benefit of society.

‘We are delighted to welcome our two new member institutions to WSTNet,’ said Professor Steffen Staab, Chair of the WSTNet Labs. ‘This is a rapidly expanding community, reflecting the significant impact of the Web on every aspect of our lives and futures.

‘Both Imperial College Data Science Institute and INRIA have already played eminent roles in advancing fundamental knowledge and technical approaches in their research areas. We look forward to the contribution they will make to WSTNet and to the high levels of engagement which will result from the increasing opportunities to share and advance our knowledge.’

Fabien Gandon of INRIA commented: ‘INRIA has actively supported the Web since its beginning, participating in the very first R&D that produced the Web in the early 1990s, and as a founding member of the W3 Consortium (W3C). Many of INRIA’s research teams contribute to computer science domains which are very relevant to the Web’s architecture, including data security and privacy enforcement, distributed and decentralized architectures, programming languages, natural language processing, and formal methods.’

Professor Yi-Ke Guo of the Data Science Institute at Imperial College, commented: ‘’The Web Science Network is committed to enlisting the help of research organisations working on the future of the Web. The development of data science will benefit greatly from this revolutionary research. We are excited to be part of the Web Science Network, and we are keen to contribute to this field to ensure the Web is even more integral to our lives.’

“Creating a Science of the Web” – 10th Anniversary

WebImage_ECS_TwitterThis month marks the 10th anniversary of the publication of Creating a Science of the Web in the journal Science. In this groundbreaking paper, Web Science Trust founder members, Tim Berners-Lee, Wendy Hall, James Hendler, Nigel Shadbolt, and Daniel J. Weitzner set out their manifesto. Identifying the need for improved understanding of the evolving Web, they concluded that:

Web science is about … engineering new infrastructure protocols, understanding the society that uses them … and the creation of beneficial new systems … Web science is about making powerful new tools for humanity, and doing it with our eyes open.

Since 2006 we have furthered the field through the establishment of an annual Web Science Conference, The Web Observatory, and the Web Science Network, as well as supporting Web Science Education worldwide.

As we prepare to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Web Science in a global event on 29 November 2016, Science are set to publish a new paper in which the authors of Creating a Science of the Web advance their vision for the future of this multidisciplinary field.

Download our 10th Anniversary brochureWeb Science 10 years image

See our original post (as the WSRI) from November 2006 – via the Internet Archive.

Upcoming Conferences 2016-17

We’re celebrating our 10th anniversary this year and will be holding a special Web-based event on 29 November (more information coming soon). This seems as good a time as any to look at how the research community engage with Web Science subjects, and look ahead to conferences that explore WebSci themes. As a multidisciplinary field Web Science spans a range of subjects – from technical and infrastructural concerns to political, social, educational, and health related topics. WebSci is currently looking very healthy, and we’ve compiled a list of over 25 gatherings from around the globe to provide an overview of current research topics.

This list is by no means comprehensive. If you want to find out about other events that engage with Web Science topics, WikiCFP provides a more extensive, searchable database. Also, if we’ve included conferences in error, please let us know.

ismw-fruct logo

CSCW2017 logo25 February – 1 March 2017
ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work CSCW 2017
Portland, Oregon, USA

LAK17 logo
13 – 17 March 2017
7th International Learning Analytics and Knowledge Conference LAK 2017
Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada

WWW2017 logo3 – 7 April, 2017
26th International World Wide Web Conference, 2017 WWW 2017
Perth, Western Australia

ECIR17 logo8 – 13 April 2017
The 39th European Conference on Information Retrieval ECIR 2017
Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Scotland

10 – 11 April 2017
Brave Conversations 2017 Web Science Conference #braveconversations
Australian National University, Canberra

CHI2017 logo6 – 11 May 2017
ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems CHI 2017
Denver, USA

WST-logo-icon26 – 28 June 2017
9th International ACM Web Science Conference WebSci 2017
Troy, New York, USA

JCDL2017 logo19 – 23 June 2017
The ACM/IEEE-CS Joint Conference on Digital Libraries JCDL ’17
University of Toronto, Canada

23 – 25 June 2017
10th International Conference on Educational Data Mining EDM2017
Cebu, Philippines

ICALT17 logo3 – 7 July 2017
The 19th International Conference on Advanced Learning Technologies ICALT 2017
Timisoara, Romania

UMAP2017 logo9 – 12 July 2017
25th Conference on User Modeling, Adaptation and Personalization UMAP2017
Bratislava, Slovakia

SMS 2016 logo28 – 30 July 2017
The 8th International Conference on Social Media & Society SMSociety
Toronto, Canada

SIGIR2017 logo7 – 11 August 2017
The 40th International ACM Conference on Research & Development in Information Retrieval SIGIR 2017
Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan

KDD 2017 logo14 – 17 August 2017
23rd ACM Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining SIGKDD 2017
Halifax, Nova Scotia , Canada

AOIR16 logo

19 – 21 October 2017
18th Annual Association of Internet Researchers Conference AoIR 2017
University of Tartu andTallinn University, Estonia

Past conferences

28 August – 4 September 2016
International FRUCT Conference on Intelligence, Social Media and Web ISMW FRUCT
St Petersburg, Russia

MobilHCI16 logo6 – 9 September 2016
Annual ACM Conference on Mobile Human Computer Interaction MobileHCI 2016
Florence, Italy

KDWEB2016 logo8 – 10 September 2016
2nd International Conference on Knowledge Discovery on the Web KDWEB 2016
University of Cagliari, Italy

CMRIG16 logo19 – 20 September 2016
International Conference on ICT & Business Information Systems for Business Intelligence Business Intelligence 2016
London, UK

CMRIG16 logo19 – 20 September 2016
International Conference on Digital IT Policy, Border Control and Cyber Policy e-Policy 2016
London, UK

KESW16 logo21 – 23 September 2016
International Conference on Knowledge Engineering and Semantic Web KESW 2016
Prague, Czech Republic

22 – 23 September 2016
The 4th Biennial Internet, Politics, and Policy Conference IPP2016 University of Oxford, UK

ICCCI 2016 logo28 – 30 September 2016
8th International Conference on
Computational Collective Intelligence ICCCI 2016
Halkidiki, Greece

AOIR16 logo5 – 8 October 2016
17th Annual Association of Internet Researchers Conference AoIR 2016
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany

6 – 7 October 2016
The 4th International Open Data Conference IODC16
Madrid, Spain

CMRIG16 logoOctober 12-13, 2016
International Conference on Web Fraud Detection, Financial & Fraud Analysis (Fraud-Detect 2016)
Oxford, UK

WI1613 – 16 October 2016
IEEE/WIC/ACM International
Conference on Web Intelligence WI’16
University of Nebraska, Omaha, Nebraska, USA

UIST 2016 logo16 – 19 October 2016
29th ACM User Interface Software and Technology Symposium UIST 2016
Tokyo, Japan


17 – 21 October 2016
The 15th International Semantic Web Conference ISWC 2016
Kobe, Japan

CIKM2016 logo24 – 28 October 2016
25th ACM International Conference on Information & Knowledge Management CIKM 2016
Indianapolis, USA

ACM CCS 2016 logo24 – 28 October 2016
23rd ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security ACM CCS 2016
Hofburg Palace, Vienna, Austria

HCOMP16 logoOctober 30 – November 3 2016
The 4th AAAI Conference on Human Computation and Crowdsourcing HCOMP 2016
Austin, TX, USA

iwsw2016 logo2 November 2016
2nd International Workshop on Semantic Web IWSW 2016
Havana, Cuba

CMRIG16 logo9 – 10 November 2016
International Conference on Tools for Analytics, Visualisation and Data Mining Tools 2016
London, UK

TREC201615 – 18 November 2016
Text Retreival Conference TREC 2016
Gaithersburg, USA

SWIB16 logo28 to 30 November 2016
8th Semantic Web in Libraries Conference SWIB16
Bonn, Germany

WST-logo-icon29 November 2016
Web Science Trust 10th Anniversary Celebration
The Web

CMRIG16 logo7 December 2016
International Conference On Health Informatics And Computer Assisted Medicine Health IT 2016
London, UK

CMRIG16 logo7 December 2016
International Conference on Web-Based Learning, Interaction & Accessibility e-Learning 2016
London, UK

Jim Hendler on Social Media and Collective Intelligence

Interview with Jim Hendler on Social Media and Collective Intelligence

(This interview was first Published online: 12 December 2012 in the German Journal on Artificial Intelligence)

Jim Hendler James A. Hendler is the Tetherless World Professor of Computer and Cognitive Science and the Head of the Computer Science Department at RPI. He also serves as a Director of the UK’s charitable Web Science Trust and is a visiting Professor at DeMontfort University in Leicester, UK. Hendler has authored about 200 technical papers in the areas of Semantic Web, artificial intelligence, agent-based computing and high performance processing. One of the early “Semantic Web” innovators, Hendler is a Fellow of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence, the British Computer Society, the IEEE and the AAAS. In 2010, Hendler was named one of the 20 most innovative professors in America by Playboy magazine and was selected as an “Internet Web Expert” by the US government. He is the Editor-in-Chief emeritus of IEEE Intelligent Systems and is the first computer scientist to serve on the Board of Reviewing Editors for Science. Hendler was the recipient of a 2012 Strata Conference Data Innovation Award for his work in Open Government Data.

KI: We see a very broad interpretation of Social Media these days. How do you define Social Media?
In the real world people form communities of various kinds that are bound together by social relationships—those relationships are the real-world “social networks” that social-networking sites rely on. Personally, I see social media as the online means for realizing, extending, maintaining, etc. those networks through new computing technologies.
KI: Regarding this definition, how would you put Collective Intelligence in that context?
Continuing that analogy, collective intelligence is what arises as the online communities grow and become “utile.” This can result in systems like Wikipedia, where a combination of openness and governance, coupled with expertise and interest has produced something exciting. On the other hand, without tools and rules it would digress into a hopeless mess. One of the things I’m excited about is improving the tools both for helping to produce, and also to better understand, collective intelligence in many more systems.
KI: Please tell us your personal assessment of these fields of research. What are your observations on the changes and trends these fields have gone through?
I’m excited by much of the work I see, but frankly I think we have a long way to go. To date, a lot of the work has been looking at well-studied phenomena in off-line communities and seeing how those effects play out in online communities. That is great work, but one starts to see hints of new things happening as these communities are growing, and as a new generation that texts as naturally as talks comes online. We see an entire generation which has less binding to physical location, had different ideas about privacy and social mores, and which will inherit the societies we all live in. Understanding the differences in online communities, rather than the commonalities, and looking at how these things help shape the real world, more than the other way around, is a change that is just starting.
KI: What are future research challenges in this area?
Lots and lots, but I’d start with inter-disciplinarity as the key challenge to researchers. I recently was at a large faculty gathering where computer scientists, digital humanities researchers, and social scientists, all managed to use the same words to talk past each other. Further, there was surprisingly little awareness of others’ literatures. Social scientists who study online communities were surprised to learn about “human computing” (the work Luis von Ahn and others do), and computer scientists had no clue that incentives, motivation and social affect were well-studied areas of literatures they’d never seen. Worse, in my opinion, was that most of them didn’t even realize they were talking past each other. I think it is great that some of the top social media researchers are getting huge followings, but until these communities can understand each other, I don’t think we’ll really develop the kinds of understanding we need.
KI: Social Media and Collective Intelligence are often mentioned in context of the fourth paradigm (data-intensive scientific discovery). What is your opinion regarding this?
I think that the tools needed for large-scale data analysis are helpful in enabling a new generation of social scientists (and many others) explore issues at scale that could previously only be looked at in microcosms. However, that alone isn’t enough—the key is figuring out how to ask the right questions, build the right tools, etc.
KI: Also closely connected is the topic of Big Data. What challenges and opportunities do you see in the application of Big Data in the context of Social Media and Collective Intelligence?
My colleague Nigel Shadbolt recently summed up one of my talks in a tweet that said “ ‘Big Data’ is so 2011—enter the era of ‘Broad Data.’ ” To me the real challenge isn’t data mining and data analytics, it’s finding ways to collect and understand the important data that explains what is happening. Facebook graphs and Twitter re-tweet networks can be analyzed to show us what is happening online, but not yet to show us how these effects are really changing the world. The Arab Spring, the SOPA “Internet blackout,” and the way social media are being manipulated for political gain, as a few examples, are the kind of things we must understand. I just don’t see ‘Big Data’, in and of itself, getting us there.
KI: R&D and Innovation has already opened itself to include customers and other stakeholders outside of the company. What is your opinion on the inclusion of Collective Intelligence in the Innovation process as the next step?
I think it is currently too much of a fad. Until we understand it a lot better, we’ll be unable to tell the “wisdom of the crowd” from the “madness of the mob”.
KI: Before you mentioned “tools and rules,” can you elaborate?
If we look at Wikipedia, we see that, as it has grown, it has needed to evolve the rules that govern the collective. Further, the Wikipedia infrastructure uses a bunch of different tools including data miners, software robots, and history visualizers to make those rules effective. The media Wiki code is open, but the rules are not in machine-readable forms and the tools are not available. The same applies to many of the other large-scale social media platforms and applications. I think a great challenge to technologists is how to make these things declarative and available to larger audiences.
KI: There is some initial research on semantics based on Social Media. What are the opportunities you see connecting these two areas?
Here are a few ideas: Making tools and rules more available needs to build on AI and Semantic Web technologies. Current technologies have to evolve into online social machines that integrate human and computer capabilities. (Tim Berners–Lee and I had a paper in AI Journal on this a couple of years ago.) Another aspect of the way semantics can play on this is helping us move from unlabeled network models to more complex graphs that can give us more specific capabilities for analyzing the important aspects of online communities I referred to earlier. The move by Facebook to bring more relationships into their open graph protocol (OGP) shows that they see the need for more of this. As academics we should also be exploring this idea. Additionally, we need to be able to create some semantic components that let us make inferences that can, for example, bridge networks by recognizing common people and elements, that can let us recognize categories of terms and topics, and that can otherwise help us do more sophisticated analyses on these ever more complex emerging graphs.
KI: Do you think future intelligent agents could be using Social Media to further develop based on the wisdom of the crowd?
Actually, I take a very different spin on this question. To me the real exciting thing is when we can put more and more capable agents into the hands of people working together to solve really hard problems. The ability to help collective intelligence be applied to real-world problems and to increase its reach requires the tools I mentioned before. And the tools we need are agents that can support the development and evolution of social machines.
KI: How does the curriculum of Web Science differ compared to that of i-Schools and IS?
While there’s obviously overlap between these areas, the emphases of the Web Science work at different schools, and in different departments, will vary. At some schools I would expect the i-Schools to be leaders in this area, at others it may be a computer science department, IT program or communications program. Some places, like RPI in the US, Southampton in the UK, and KAIST in Korea are starting to give degrees that include Web Science, generally in interdisciplinary programs. Given the inherently multidisciplinary nature of the pursuit, I think there is room under many departments for the work. I like the analogy of “climate science:” One doesn’t expect to find a climate science department at most places, rather, different schools have different areas of expertise that feed into the overall study of the climate. If we analogize the Web to the computing “climate,” we see that one must understand the underlying principles, the engineering involved, and the social effects. All of these things impact each other in massively complex ways, and our goal is to start getting a more principled understanding of what is going on!
KI: Thank you very much for this interview!