Category Archives: WSTNet News

Shenzhen Web Science Summer School 2017

Shenzhen Web Science Summer School 2017
The Shenzhen Web Science Summer School was held between 20 and 24 March at the Tsinghua-Southampton Web Science Laboratory, Shenzhen, China. PhD students from Tsinghua, and the Web Science Institute, University of Southampton, UK, worked together on two Data Challenges in a competitive datathon. The aim was to learn and put into practice new data analytic skills which students’ could apply to their own research. From this collaborative work, innovative visualisations and code were created and shared on the Web Observatory.

The students were split into two groups, and provided with 20 million text files from Chinese newspapers and 5 million text files from UK newspapers. Each group chose a Data Challenge to work on.  Group 1 tackled the Disaster Management Challenge and Group 2 worked on the Shared Bicycle Scheme Challenge.

As well as the data they were provided with, both groups needed to search for and explore any additional, relevant data that could help them give further context to their investigations. This proved difficult, as Web sources that are widely used by UK-based students were not available in China (no Google!!). This, along with some cross-cultural and language misunderstandings, added to the challenge. However, hurdles were overcome and the teams worked together to produce insightful analyses.

Group 1: Disaster Management

Group 1 - Tsinghua Summer School
Group 1

Tsinghua University: Wang Chen, Jinxin Han, Xin He, GengBiao Shen, Kan Wu, Jing Zhang
WSI: Jo Munson and Sami Kanza
Mentor: Eugene Siow
This Challenge explored patterns of flooding in the real world and how it is reported on social media. Aided by their mentors expertise in Statistical Modelling, Behavioural Mining and Sentiment Analysis, students were helped to evaluate the propagation of online discussion on flooding. By applying  a Natural Language Processing algorithm the team developed a prototype dual-language dashboard which mapped social responses to flooding.
Outputs: Main websitePresentation Slides

Group 2: Shared bicycle schemes in China

Ofo and Mobike bicycles at Dongdan/N509FZ ©2017/cc-by-sa-4.0
Ofo and Mobike bicycles at Dongdan/N509FZ ©2017/cc-by-sa-4.0

Tsinghua University: Wei, Haimei, Jiamei, Shuo
WSI: Bart Paszcza and Chira Tochia
Mentor: Xin Wang
In recent years bicycle sharing projects have sprung up around the globe – helping to solve the ‘last mile’ problem, and enabling people to quickly and easily travel to and from major transport hubs. In the US there are more than 120 shared bicycle projects covering millions of miles every month, while in China shared bicycle projects, Mobike, and Ofo  are also attracted a great deal of interest. For the datathon the team developed a number of data visualisations showing use of bike sharing schemes in Shenzhen.
Outputs: HeatmapClustermapBike journeysPresentation Slides

Group one's Flood visualisation
Group one’s Flood visualisation

And the winners were…group one! A very well deserved win for such beautiful and useful visualisations for mapping floods in both Chinese and English.

Call for WWSSS 2018

On the beach at WWSSS 2016/ Steffen Staab ©2016
On the beach at WWSSS16/ Steffen Staab ©2016

The Steering Committee of the WSTNet Web Science Summer School (WWSSS) invites interested parties from commercial, academic or public domain to submit bids to host WWSSS in 2018. The call consists of two stages: first an expression of interest and second a full proposal.

Important dates

  • 15 June 2017: Deadline for expressions of interest
  • 15 July 2017: Notification and call for full proposals
  • 30 September 2017: Deadline for full proposals
  • 31 October 2017: Notification of acceptance Support and further information

For more details see visit the WWSSS18 Call page.

World Wide Web Conference 2017

Dame Wendy Hall announcing The Web Conference 2018
Professor Dame Wendy Hall announces The Web Conference 2018/TheWebConf ©2016

The 26th IW3C2 World Wide Web Conference concluded in Perth, Australia today, after 5 full days of presentations, workshops, demos, and in-depth debate on the current and possible future of the Web. There were keynotes from radio astronomer Melanie Johnston-Hollitt, Yoelle Maarek, Vice President of Research at Yahoo, and pioneer of 3D on the web, Mark Pesce.

In addition to chairing the Web Observatory Workshop, our Managing Director, Professor Dame Wendy Hall, presented the 2017 Seoul Test of Time Award to the authors of the 2000 paper “Graph Structure in the Web”.  Closing the conference Dame Wendy  announced the re-branding of the conference as ‘The Web Conference’ – the first to be held in Lyon, France between 23 and 27 April, 2018. To take advantage of early-bird registration, visit: www2018.thewebconf.org

WST Co-Founder Receives ACM A.M. Turing Award

Inventor of World Wide Web and Web Science Trust co-founder, Sir Tim Berners-Lee has been awarded the ACM A.M. Turing Award.

Timbls message @WebSci10
Timbls message @WebSci10/©2016 WST

As Web researchers gather at the annual World Wide Web Conference in Perth, the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) has named Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the recipient of the 2016 ACM A.M. Turing Award. Berners-Lee, a Professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Honorary Professor at the University of Southampton, was cited for inventing the World Wide Web, the first web browser, and the fundamental protocols and algorithms allowing the Web to scale.

In 1989 Berners-Lee proposed a global hypertext project, to be known as the World Wide Web. Based on the earlier “Enquire” work, it was designed to allow people to work together by combining their knowledge in a web of hypertext documents. He wrote the first World Wide Web server, “httpd“, and the first client, “WorldWideWeb” a what-you-see-is-what-you-get hypertext browser/editor which ran in the NeXTStep environment. This work was started in October 1990, the program “WorldWideWeb” first made available within CERN in December, and on the Internet at large on 6 August 1991 – when the world’s first website, http://info.cern.ch was launched.

In 2004, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his pioneering work. Named in Time magazine’s list of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th century, Berners-Lee was honoured as the “Inventor of the World Wide Web” during the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony, in which he appeared in person, working with a vintage NeXT Computer at the London Olympic Stadium. He tweeted “This is for everyone”, which was spelled out in  lights around the stadium.

Central to the universal adoption of the World Wide Web was Berners-Lee’s decision to develop it as open and royalty-free software. Berners-Lee released his libwww software package in the early 1990s, granting the rights to anyone to study, change, or distribute the software in any way they chose. He has continued to guide the project and work with developers around the world to develop web-server code. The popularity of the open source software led to the evolution of early web browsers that are credited with propagating the Web beyond academic and government research settings and making it a global phenomenon.

With the founding of the Web Science Research Initiative (later Web Science Trust) in 2006, Berners-Lee was instrumental in the establishment of Web Science as a multi-disciplinary academic field, and the institution of the annual International ACM Web Science Conference. To mark the 10th anniversary of Web Science he sent a message to via our TV Channel, focussing on the importance and urgency of the research in the field.

The ACM Turing Award, often referred to as the “Nobel Prize of Computing,” is named for Alan M. Turing, the British mathematician who articulated the mathematical foundation and limits of computing. The award will be presented the ACM Awards Banquet on June 24 in San Francisco, California.

Brave Conversations 2017

Brave Conversations Title ImageA brand new Web Science conference comes to Canberra, Australia this April. Brave Conversations provides a unique opportunity to engage with the challenging and controversial issues facing the Web today.

Among the 25 speakers presenting at the conference are our Managing Director, Professor Dame Wendy Hall, Professor Susan HalfordProfessor Axel Bruns, Government Policy Advisor, Pia Waugh, self-confessed ‘data fanatic’, Michele Berkhout, CEO
The Open Data Institute Dubai, Ibrahim Elbadawi, and Founder and CEO of Old Ways, New, Angie Abdilla.

The organisers aim to provide a space:

where participants need to be brave, to say the things that they know need to be said, and be prepared to apply intellectual rigour to challenging ideas that might take us to uncomfortable places.

The conference programme covers a range of topics including:

  • Democracy & politics
  • Privacy & individual liberty
  • New economics
  • Technology leadership & ethics
  • Social Machines
  • Artificial Intelligence

Brave Conversations 2017 (#braveconversations) is being held at the Australian National University between 10-11 April. Tickets are available from the conferences’ Eventbrite webpage.

Download the conference flyer.

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.

Ted Nelson: the only one around who’s sane

Ted Nelson at the University of Southampton, 2016
Ted Nelson at the University of Southampton, 2016

To us you appear to be the only one around who is clinically sane.

So concludes Werner Herzog after speaking with Ted Nelson half way through his latest film, Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World. This may come as no surprise to those who recognise the genius of a director who famously cooked and ate his shoe on camera, and threatened to shoot one of his leading actors on set (the actor was Klaus Kinski, so there were extenuating circumstances).

As Ted asserts, the interview is brilliantly edited and, “presents a seamless train of thought selected from my sweeping complex of ideas”. For an introduction to the thinking of the pioneering inventor of Hypertext, it’s well worth viewing.

Lo and Behold is available in full on Netflix and Amazon Prime.

The Internet on Film – 2016

The year the Walker Art Center finally lowered the curtain on the Internet Cat Video Festival* also featured the release of some notable Internet-related films:

  • ForEveryone.Net  – In this short documentary by Jessica Yu, our co-founder, Sir Tim Berners-Lee tells the story of how he created the World Wide Web and discusses current threats to the Internet.
  • Zero Days  – A documentary about the repercussions of Stuxnet, the malicious computer worm released by U.S. intelligence agencies, which spread beyond its intended target.
  • Internet Famous An allegedly hilarious mocumentary about vlogging (currently available on Netflix).
  • Snowden – Film director, Oliver Stone’s latest paranoid trip, dramatising Edward Snowden’s leaking of thousands of U.S. classified documents. Currently on theatrical release in the UK and elsewhere.

* feline film fans needn’t worry as other organisers have swiftly moved in to fill the vacuum.

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.

Our Web Science Manifesto

For the Web to succeed, we need to understand its societal challenges including increased crime, the impact of social platforms and socio-economic discrimination, and we must work towards fairness, social inclusion, and open governance.

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

Jim Hendler
Professor Jim Hendler, Chair, Web Science Trust

Steffen Staab
Professor Steffen Staab, Chair, WSTNet

Web Science is even more important now than it was when the field was launched ten years ago, say Professors Dame Wendy Hall, Jim Hendler, and Steffen Staab in our Web Science Manifesto, published earlier this week at WebScience@10.

While recognising the huge influence the Web has had on our lives since its foundations were defined by Tim Berners-Lee 27 years ago, the Hall, Hendler, and Staab focus their attention on how Web Science tackles the  unforeseen social outcomes of this era-defining technical innovation. They discuss the digital divide that separates those who have and those who do not have access to the Web – the challenges we must understand to find a viable balance between data ownership and privacy protection, and between over-whelming surveillance and the prevention of terrorism.

To find out more read our Web Manifesto (pdf download).