WebSci21 – Video Vault No 1 – Matt Weber

Notes

As a place for organizing and the emergence of new organizations, the Web is a platform that has been evolving for more than 25 years. Digital data from the Web provides a rich platform for observing a wide range of social science phenomena – especially patterns of organizational activity. Simultaneously, Web Science has emphasized the intersection of disciplines as a way to understand the science of the Web, but it is equally important to theorize how we connect levels of activity on the Web (from individuals to organizations to ecosystems and governments). Building off a foundation grounded in institutional theory and the emergence of institutions, this talk outlines a multilevel perspective of institutions on the Web as a means of understanding the various processes by which organizational activity occurs. New approaches to data collection and analysis are discussed in order to enable a multilevel and longitudinal analysis of Web-based activity.

Summary

In this talk Matthew Weber discusses how the theory and practice of institutional (organizational) behaviour has been modified by the growth of the Web and the corresponding opportunity and need to collect data from the Web to model and understand this evolving activity.

About the Video Vault Series

In partnership with the ACM we are pleased to be able to release a series of videos from the most recent Web Science Conference (ACM WebSci’21) that were previously only available to attendees of the conference.

The series will be released fortnightly and will include a selection of Keynote talks and Spotlight panel discussions.

Copyright / Links

This video is (c) 2021 provided under license from the ACM.

 

UTW Episode 28: Sonia Livingstone

Children and the Digital Future

Our guest for this episode is Sonia Livingstone, a professor of social psychology at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Sonia’s research focuses on children and young people’s media literacy and rights in the digital environment. She recently co-authored (with Alicia Blum-Ross) the book Parenting for a Digital Future: How hopes and fears about technology shape children’s lives, published by Oxford U Press.

In this episode, Sonia suggests we examine children’s media use in more expansive ways, thinking beyond how much time children spend online and also considering how exactly they’re engaging with screens. She also emphasizes that technology inequalities merit more attention and discusses children’s rights and agency within the digital space. 

 

WebSci’22 Call for Papers

The Old vs. the New Normal

Web-based technologies have proven to be playing a vital role in enabling us to cope with the global pandemic. Having experienced two years of “crisis,” many new norms have been forming, both socially and technologically. While some people long to return to how things were before the pandemic, others are questioning whether that is a state worth returning to. The main theme of this year’s conference, therefore, is the old vs. the new normal. Even though the conference accepts a wide range of topics (see below), papers discussing this overall issue would be particularly welcomed. 

 

Click here for the full call for papers

Key dates

Submission – Feb 10th, 2022

Notification – Mar 31st, 2022

Camera-ready – May 12th, 2022

Future Worlds Challenge Event

We created the first Brave Conversations in 2017 but it had a long genesis and followed on from a series of events which we called Meta held between 2008 – 2011.  (Funny as I think of how Facebook has now rebranded itself to exactly the same name but for entirely different reasons!)

Our “Meta” events were so named because they focused on metadata, which is essentially, data about data.  The objective was to bring people from different perspectives and backgrounds (academia, business and government) together to explore the symbiotic relationship between humanity and technology as digital technologies become increasingly pervasive in everyday life.  At these early events we were joined by the early thinkers and practitioners in what we now recognise as the Web Science space, but the conversations were far from mainstream.  That has taken time and there’s nothing like a global pandemic, countries in lockdown, and everyday living moving online to kickstart the adoption of new technologies!

So, here we are a decade after our last Meta event and having developed and taken Brave Conversations around the world and online and it’s time for us to create something a little different, something targeted at the emerging leaders in our society and those for whom being online is just taken as given – those born in the 21st Century.

Our early Brave Conversations events attracted a number of young people, sometimes with parents and even grandparents, and Brave Conversations Kingston Jamaica was especially targeted to this demographic.  Since that time we have been developing an idea to gamify the process of learning about Web Science and the ‘theory and practice of the Social Machine‘ but it wasn’t until we met MIT researcher Jessica Van Brummelenthat it all came together with the result being Future Worlds Challenge.

Jessica is an Electrical Engineering and Computer Science PhD student at MIT researching how conversational agents can empower and teach young learners about AI.

What are conversational agents?

According to IBM:

Conversational AI refers to technologies (chat-bots, virtual agents) which interact with users via speech and uses large volumes of data, machine learning, and natural language processing to help imitate human interactions, recognizing speech and text inputs and translating their meanings across various languages.

Jessica’s research focuses on empowering young learners through helping them develop conversational AI development skills and engaging them in discussions about the ethics of AI.  (You can find out more about this work here).  Once we met Jessica we knew we had the perfect partner to hold our first Future Worlds Challenge and so we now have two events planned for the end of November, each targeting a different time zone and audience.

Each Future Worlds will comprise the first day of learning to programme an Amazon Alexa using MIT App Inventor and then the second working in teams, each with their own Amazon Alexa, to undertake the Challenge itself.

What is Future Worlds Challenge?

There are so many challenges facing humanity at the moment – climate change, the future of education, health care, governance, work-life balance.  The idea of Future Worlds Challenge is to help participants working in teams to think through some of these issues from a systems perspective considering each of the following and how they interact with each other and with the global system as a whole.

  • Intrapersonal – What are the systems within ourselves: physical, intellectual, emotional, spiritual?
  • Interpersonal – What are the systems between ourselves and others in our family, community?
  • Societal – What are the systems at work within a society?
  • Global – What are the systems at work in our relationship with the natural world?

 

 

We will combine this thinking with each of the following domains in order to explore the options and choices which are presenting themselves, and then each team, armed with the power of their Conversational AI Alexa, will work towards creating and presenting a Future World which they believe would be the most sustainable and beneficial for humanity.

The winning teams will then be invited to join us (virtually) for our Brave Conversations Barcelona event at the forthcoming ACM Web Science 2022 Conference hosted by Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain.

At this stage we have over 100 people from all around the world who have expressed their interest in participating but there are still places left so if you or someone you know would like to come along please register your interest here.