Category Archives: Web Science Trust News

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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WSTNet Lab Director, Professor Deborah McGuinness, features in Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute News

In the restaurant of the future, you will always enjoy the perfect meal with that full-bodied 2006 cabernet sauvignon, you will always know your dinner companions’ favorite merlot, and you will be able to check if the sommelier’s cellar contains your favorite pinot grigio before you even check your coat. These feats of classic cuisine will come to the modern dinner through the power of Semantic Web technology.

Web scientist and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Tetherless World Research Constellation Professor Deborah McGuinness has been developing a family of applications for the most tech-savvy wine connoisseurs since her days as a graduate student in the 1980s—before what we now know as the World Wide Web had even been envisioned.

Today, McGuinness is among the world’s foremost experts in Web ontology languages. These languages are used to encode meanings in a language that computers can understand. The most recent version of her wine application serves as an exceptional example of what the future of the World Wide Web, often called Web 3.0, might in fact look like. It is also an exceptional tool for teaching future Web Scientists about ontologies.

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Second Web Science Trust Doctoral Summer School to be held in Galway

The Digital Enterprise Research Institute at NUI Galway will be holding the second Web Science Trust Doctoral Summer School from 6 to 13 July 2011.

The Summer School at DERI will provide a unique cross-disciplinary grounding in techniques for Web analysis. A mix of national and international contributors will deliver lectures and seminars on the dynamics and dimensions of the Web. Applicants are not necessarily expected to have a computing background, though some technical knowledge of computing and the Web would be advisable. Participants will have also have an opportunity to work in small groups on topic-specific breakout sessions.

Topics include: Detecting and acting upon risks and opportunities on the Social Web; behaviour and use roles in online communities; impact of governance on collective user behaviour; mining the Web as a multidimensional network; achieving Web-scale networked knowledge; complex systems analysis; social dynamics of the Web.

For further information see the Summer School Web site:


Web Science features in Royal Society ‘Science sees further’ report

A new report on future science from the Royal Society, London, features Web Science as one of the key areas of scientific exploration this century.

The Royal Society celebrated its 350th anniversary years with a series of high-level discussion meetings which featured the key scientific questions of the 21st century. Web Science was one of those important areas and a two-day meeting at the Society’s headquarters in London in September 2010 drew a capacity audience to hear distinguished speakers from around the world discuss many aspects of the Web’s impact on science and society.

To complete its celebrations the Royal Society has now published a report entitled ‘Science sees further’, which contains contributions from the organizers of all the discussion meetings and summarizes the most important aspects of their subjects. The Web Science article is written by Professor Nigel Shadbolt, Professor Dame Wendy Hall, Professor James Hendler, and Professor William Dutton.

The article explains why the Web is now crucial for the future development of society, outlines the progress that has been made in understanding some of its key features, and explains how the scientific study of the Web can benefit society’s endeavours in the future. It places the intellectual challenge of Web Science firmly on a par with climate science, the breadth of the life sciences, and the exploration of the Universe and makes a powerful plea for the importance of an integrated multidisciplinary approach to understanding the Web:

‘If we are to anticipate how the Web will develop we will require insight into our own nature and the dynamics of policy and practice worldwide. Web Science is not only a new frontier, it is an endeavour that will bring together a new generation of enquiring minds.’

Video recordings of all the contributions to the September Discussion Meeting – Web Science: A New Frontier, can be accessed on the Royal Society’s web pages.