Just let the AI handle it …

Having deligated its English-to-Swedish translation duties to an AI tool (Alexa perhaps ..?) Amazon announced

“We are pleased to open the doors for Amazon.se and offer Swedish consumers a selection of more than 150 million products, of which tens of thousands come from local Swedish companies,” said Alex Ootes, vice president of European expansion at Amazon, in a press release.

Upon reviewing feedback from local Swedish press Computing commented:

“Among those 150 million products, Swedish shoppers were surprised,  some no doubt delighted, to find an expansive range of “cock brushes”, “cock paintings”, “rape curtains” and “prostitute earrings”, although how many came from local Swedish companies was not made clear.”

WebSci’21 Report

Web Science success

Delegates from around the globe gathered online to take part in the successful 13th ACM Web Science Conference (#websci21) that was hosted by the University of Southampton.

More than 270 people, from as far afield as China and the USA, joined the five-day event to focus on Globalisation, Inclusion and the Web in the Context of COVID.

The conference was chaired by Professor Dame Wendy Hall, Executive Director of the University’s Web Science Institute (WSI), and brought together world leaders in Web Science research, technology, industry and policy-making. They addressed the challenges and opportunities arising from the effects of the pandemic and other global threats.

ACM President Gabriele Kotsis and President-Elect of the International Communication Association Noshir Contractor opened the conference and shared their views on the future of the Web.

A highlight of the event was the keynote ‘In Conversation’ between Dame Wendy and entrepreneur and internet activist Baroness Martha Lane Fox. They discussed Baroness Lane-Fox’s contributions to public policy and the technological debate. The pair also explored the legislation processes and work going on within select committees and the House of Lords that is relevant to Web Science.

Dame Wendy said: “Our second ACM Web Science conference at Southampton was a huge success and a truly global, interdisciplinary event. This year we even held one panel – The future of the Web in a post-COVID world – in English and Chinese. It was a good opportunity to reflect on how COVID-19 had changed the world and to discuss its impact on the Web in the future.”

As well as the main conference, the event also showcased the work of Web Science students with a PhD Symposium on the first day.

Southampton Web Science PhD student Allison Noble said: “I was fortunate enough to be selected to present my ideas at the Symposium, which brings together a number of experienced academics to provide PhD students (at different stages of their candidature) an opportunity to showcase their research goals and to receive feedback on their ongoing research on an international platform.

“I wanted to receive feedback on a concept I had been working on, in particular the robustness of the idea. The PhD Symposium offered me a platform to present my proposal and I received clear and considerate feedback from the other mentors. I would recommend other PhD students to participate in such events as they help to create a clear sense of direction in work and methods.”

This was the second year the conference had been hosted by the University of Southampton and organised by the WSI. Last year they had to rapidly transform the event from a physical conference to a virtual conference due to the restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Watch the highlights video of the conference here.

 

 

 

 

This story originally appeared in University of Southampton “Staff Matters” Blog.

UTW Episode 20: Richard Rogers

Web Epistemology

In this episode, we talk with Richard Rogers, a professor and chair of New Media and Digital Culture at the University of Amsterdam. An award-winning author, he also is Director of the Digital Methods Initiative (DMI), known for the development of software tools for the study of online data. He’s interested in web epistemology — and more — and was co-chair for one of the very first Web Science conferences.

In this episode, Richard digs into “digital methods” and what that really means, as well as the software his team has built to conduct research under the DMI. He brings us into some of his newest work, like the book he’s working on called Mainstreaming the Fringe: How Misinformation Propagates in Social Media, but he also goes back to what started his path in web science. And he discusses a number of critical projects that has helped shed light on topics including issue drift and issue celebrities. To understand those terms and more, listen to this episode.

 

UTW Episode 19: Sinan Aral

The Hype Machine

In this episode, we talk with Sinan Aral, an award-winning researcher, entrepreneur and venture capitalist. He is the David Austin professor of Management, Marketing IT and Data Science at MIT, where he also directs MIT’s initiative on the Digital Economy. And in 2020, he published his first book: The Hype Machine

During this conversation, Sinan gives us a “tour” of the book. He talks about how — and why — social media is built to hype us up, as well as how making social platforms interoperabile might just be the key to creating a better hype machine. And he walks us through why fake news travels so fast on social media — faster than real news, and faster than it ever could even a decade ago. To hear about this and more, give a listen to this episode.

 

UTW Episode 18: Matt Weber

Web Archiving

In this episode (22 minutes long), we talk with Matt Weber, a faculty member in the Department of Communication at the School of Communication and Information at Rutgers University. With more than a decade of experience researching information ecosystems, organizations and communities, Matt focuses on the use of large scale web data to study processes of change. In addition, Matt has been an active member of the web science community. He’s the program co-chair for the ACM 2021 Web Science Conference, and delivered a keynote at this year’s conference. 

In this episode, Matt explains the process of web archiving, along with some of the questions it enables us to explore. He touches on how his own research, some of which centers on news media production, fits into all this. And he discusses some of the challenges and issues that surround web archiving, as well as pathways to solutions. To hear these insights and more, listen to this episode.