Category Archives: Web Science Trust News

Announcing the ‘Digital Enlightenment Forum’

The DIGITAL ENLIGHTENMENT FORUM aims to shed light on rapid technological changes and their perceived impact on society and its governance. The FORUM will stimulate debate and in doing so will take reference from the Enlightenment period, as well as from transformations and evolutions that have taken place since. It will view digital technologies and their application with an open mind so as to prevent carelessly sweeping away values. When necessary, it will help to re-instate them – albeit in novel forms that take advantage both of today’s knowledge and our unprecedented access to information.

The founding objective of the DIGITAL ENLIGHTENMENT FORUM is to provide a broad framework for debate and guidance on the topics mentioned above. The approach will be fully open to as-yet undiscovered changes.

Several issues mentioned above have been extensively elaborated on in the RISEPTIS report ( and were emphasized in the conclusions of the Conference of Leon on Trust in the Information Society (, organized jointly by the European Commission and the Spanish Presidency in February 2010.

Forum website:

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

ACM WebSci’11: Video Lectures are now available online

WebSci11 opens in Koblenz, Germany

The third conference in the annual Web Science series began yesterday (Wednesday 15 July) in Koblenz, Germany. This is the first conference in the series to be officially designated an ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) event.

The conference was opened by Professor Steffen Staab, Conference General Chair, Professor Dame Wendy Hall, Founder-Director of the Web Science Trust and Chair of the Conference Steering Board,  and by this year’s Programme Chair, Professor David De Roure.

Professor De Roure commented on the high number and quality of the submissions to this year’s conference, and the global spread of contributors. ‘The conference is unique in the manner in which it brings multiple disciplines together in creative and critical dialogue,’ he said.

The first conference keynote was delivered by Dr Jaime Teevan, researcher in the Context, Learning and User Experience for Search (CLUES) group at Microsoft Research. She demonstrated the importance of studying and analysing historical changes to web pages over time as a way of understanding the dynamics of web search, and helping improve browser, crawler and search engine behaviour.

The first Conference session, ‘Analysis of the Web and Web Users’, included presentatons on the value of analyzing spatio-temporal dynamics on Twitter and ways of improving search experiences on the Web.

The poster session included around 100 posters, covering areas such as: Business, Semantic Web, Privacy & Security, Social Media, Multimedia, Social Networks, Linked Open Data, Social Science, Web Mining, Crowd Sourcing and E-Learning.

In the Conference Programme, Professor David De Roure and Scott Poole write: ‘As a measure of community activity, the conference demonstrates the increasing breadth and quality of research in the Web Science area, and the programme illustrates exciting developments in the study of Web Science both in results and methodologies, with a growing body of empirical work that brings new insights to the micro and macro behaviour of the Web.’

Twitter feed: websci11

Conference website:

Web Science – helping ensure the healthy development of the future Web

Web Science is one of the main opportunities for ensuring the healthy development of the future Web, according to Sir Tim Berners-Lee, keynote speaker at the conference ‘Profiting from the New Web’, held in London this week.

An audience drawn largely from the technology sector heard Sir Tim outline his hopes for the Web’s future, along with some warnings about potential limitations to the development of the Web.

His keynote set the scene for a full day of discussion about new ways of doing business that have been enabled by the Web and will make a significant difference to business practice in the future.

Sir Tim, creator of the World Wide Web, pointed to open data and linked data as exciting examples of the way that the Web is promoting transparency of information and looked forward to the time when the current 20 per cent of the world’s population who can access the Web grows to 80 per cent, with all the changes this will bring in terms of technological and social developments, and new possibilities of communication and cultural change.

“Maybe our ideas of democracies will be different,” he said. “Maybe people will build systems that we can use to communicate across boundaries … or maybe we won’t …. Whatever happens at this stage we have to think about it – and what we think about it we call Web Science.”

Panel discussions during the day covered the value of open data, the importance of new platforms, social analytics, and the pervasiveness of new media in business communications, with examples drawn from companies such as Talis, Mendeley, BT, Nominet, Microsoft, Edelman, The Times, and IBM. Speakers included Dame Wendy Hall, Nigel Shadbolt, Bill Thompson, Mike Galvin, Charlie Beckett, Hector Arthur, Graham Spittle and Noshir Contractor.

The conference was a joint event organized by the Web Science Trust and Intellect, and sponsored by Nominet, Assanka, and Memset.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee is Director of the World Wide Web Consortium and Director of the World Wide Web Foundation. He is Professor of Engineering and Computer Science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Professor of Computer Science at the University of Southampton. He is Open Data Advisor to the UK Government and a Member of the UK Public Sector Transparency Board. He is a Co-Founder and Director of the Web Science Trust.

The Web Science Trust was established in 2009 at the University of Southampton to raise awareness of Web Science and to build the foundations and framework for Web Science. The Trust’s main aim is to advance education and research in Web Science for the benefit of Society. Watch the Conference Video.

For further information contact Joyce Lewis; tel.+44(0)23 8059 5453.