Category Archives: Web Science Trust News

Academic Minute

The World Wide Web is one of the most transformative technologies of modern times, changing the way we work, the way we communicate, the way we date, the way we interact with our government and just about every other aspect of modern life. Over 75% of Americans, and nearly 30% of the world’s population use the Web — it has also become a primary engine of innovation and development for our nation, and around the world.

Unfortunately, the Web also has a dark side — our children are exposed to violence and pornography in a way they never have been before; bullies, criminals and terrorists use the Web in new and troubling ways; and we are being forced to rethink privacy and control of personal information in our ever-increasingly networked world.

Given the importance of the Web to the modern world, it is surprising for many people to discover how little we understand it at a deep, scientific, level. Understanding the Web requires knowing it’s math, it’s social impacts, and how to engineer it’s future. I have been involved with a number of my colleagues in creating a new interdisciplinary area called “web science” to help answer these questions. The Web has become a critical piece of international infrastructure, we must learn to understand it to keep it, not only functioning, but free, open, and fun.


Prof James Hendler

Tetherless World Constellation Chair & Asst Dean of IT and Web Science

Computer and Cognitive Science Depts


Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy NY 12180

@jahendler, twitter

Web Science Trust Directors host private dinner at the WWW 2011 Conference in Hyderabad, India

WST Directors Professor Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Professor Dame Wendy Hall and Professor Nigel Shadbolt hosted a private dinner this week at the Novotel Hyderabad Convention Centre, coinciding with the WWW 2011 Conference. 

Distinguished guests from both industry and academia, including Microsoft Research India, Wipro Technologies, W3C India, Infosys Technologies, Tata Consultancy Services, International Institute of Informtion Technology, Bangalore, and the Indian Institute of Technology, Hyderabad, were able to discuss the Trust’s plans to grow Web Science activity in India, particularly through the establishment of Web Science Research Laboratories.

Before dinner Sir Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the Web, outlined the importance of Web Science for Industry, academia, government and global society at large.

Tim Berners-Lee receives inaugural Gorbachev Award

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the World Wide Web and a Founder Director of the Web Science Trust, was honoured last night at a special 80th birthday celebration for former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, held at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

Mr Gorbachev had chosen Sir Tim, along Ted Turner and Evans Wadongo, as the first recipients of the Mikhail Gorbachev awards.

The Inaugural Gorbachev Awards were presented in three categories, intended to reflect the former Soviet leader’s own achievements in the world. Mr Gorbachev, who turned 80 earlier this month, is widely credited with ending the Cold War and won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1992.

The three ‘Man Who Changed the World’ awards were: ‘Glasnost’, awarded to Ted Turner for his ‘contribution to the development of the culture of an open world’.

‘Uskorenie’ was awarded to Mr Wadongo for his “contribution to the development of modern science and technology”.

‘Perestroika’ was awarded to Sir Tim for his “contribution to the development of global civilisation”. Sir Tim created the World Wide Web in 1990.

Mr Gorbachev said: “These three people have each, in their own way, changed the world for their fellow men and women in ways which affect all our lives. Each and every one possesses the ability to make a difference and the Gorbachev Awards have been established to those people who achieve this and to provide inspiration to all of us to try.”

WSTNet Lab Director, Professor Helen Margetts awarded ESRC Professional Fellowship

Professor Helen Margetts has been awarded an ESRC Professorial Fellowship for ‘The Internet and Political Science: re-examining collective action, governance and citizen-government interactions in the digital era’ for the period 1 April 2011 to 31 March 2014.

The aim of this research is to assess:

  • Where political science understanding, knowledge and theory should be re-examined and developed in light of widespread use of the Internet;
  • To develop methodologies to study online behaviour including use of the Internet to generate new data and experiments; and
  • To build theory and understanding of internet-mediated interactions at both individual and organizational levels.

First, the project will re-examine the logic of collective action, assessing the impact of reduced communication, coordination and transaction costs; the changing nature of leadership; and the effects of real-time social information on political mobilization. This part of the research will involve conducting laboratory and field experiments into online behaviour, investigating the effect of different information environments on propensity to participate.

Second, the research will develop the Digital-era Governance model for newer ‘Web 2.0’ applications and other technological developments such as cloud computing, investigating where such applications have brought citizens into the ‘front-office’ of government. The research will re-examine the nature of citizen-government interactions in this changing environment, examining the impact of Internet-based mediation on information exchange, transparency and citizen participation in policy-making. This part of the research will involve a comparison of government’s online presence in eight countries, using webmetric techniques, and in-depth qualitative analysis of governance models, using elite interviewing and documentary analysis.

Helen Margetts is Professor of Society and the Internet in the Oxford Internet Institute, Professorial Fellow of Mansfield College, co-director of the social science experimental laboratory OxLab and Editor of the journal Policy and Internet. Research and publications are available at


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Daniel Weitzner to be named as new Deputy CTO for Internet Policy at the White House

Daniel Weitzner, a Commerce Department official, is expected to be named deputy chief technology officer for Internet policy, a spot previously held by Andrew McLaughlin.

GovFresh reported last week an OSTP representative had confirmed the pick, but it has not yet been formally announced.

At OSTP, Weitzner will join two other deputy CTOs, recently appointed Chris Vein, who focuses on innovation and Scott Deutchman, who focuses on telecommunications policy. All three will work under federal CTO Aneesh Chopra.

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