UTW Episode 22: Pablo Boczkowski

Cultural Perspectives on the Web

Our guest for this episode is Pablo Boczkowski, who is Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at Northwestern University, as well as the founder and director of the Center for Latinx Digital Media. He’s also the cofounder and the co-director of the Center for the Study of Media and Society in Argentina, and has been a senior research fellow at the Weizenbaum Institute for the Networked Society in Berlin, Germany.

In this episode, Pablo discusses his new book “Abundance,” which draws on research in Argentina — and explains why what some people term “information overload” could actually be thought of in less negative terms. He also makes a compelling argument for why studying the global south is a necessity — and why web science should take a more cultural perspective in tandem with technical advancements. To hear his talk about this and more, listen to this episode.


WebSci’21 Special Summer 2021


Special Issue: WebSci’21

In this issue …

Looking back at ACM WebSci’21
Prizewinners at WebSci’21
WebSci’21 Meet the Authors
Untangling the Web Podcast – an interview with Noshir Contractor
Saying Hello: Meeting two new WST Trustees
Upcoming events – WebSci’22

Looking back at WebSci’21

ACM WebSci’21 was hosted by the Web Science Institute at the University of Southampton and ran as an online-only conference for the second year since Covid restrictions were put in place. Despite raising new challenges for the organisers, both WebSci’20 and ‘21 offered the widest ever opportunities for participation across the global Web Science community.

The theme this time was Globalisation, Inclusion and the Web in the Context of COVID. Our Keynote Speakers were:

  • Daniel J. Weitzner, Director of the MIT Internet Policy Research Initiative
  • Martha Lane Fox, Entrepreneur and Internet activist
  • Jennifer Zhu Scott, Executive Chairman of The Commons Project
  • Matthew Weber, Associate Professor at Rutgers University
  • Deen Freelon, Associate Professor at UNC Chapel Hill

The conference is over but here are some useful links to catch up:

ACM Proceedings
ACM Companion Proceedings
WebSci’21 Highlights
WebSci’21 Blog

WebSci’21 Prize winning papers

Congratulations to the following authors for their prize winning papers this year. To follow up on these contributions please consult the proceedings (see link above).

  • Monetizing Propaganda: How Far-right Extremists Earn Money by Video Streaming – Megan Squire
    ACM Best Paper
  • Analysis and Prediction of Multilingual Controversy on Reddit – Philipp Koncar, Simon Walk and Denis Relic
    Best Student Paper
  • Wide-AdGraph: Detecting Ad Trackers with a Wide Dependency Chain Graph – Amir Hossein Kargaran, Mohammad Sadegh Akhondzadeh, Mohammad Reza Heidarpour, Mohammad Hossein Manshaei, Kave Salamatian and Masoud Nejad Sattary
    Best Student Paper Honourable Mention
  • Social Science for Natural Language Processing: A Hostile Narrative Analysis Prototype – Stephen Anning, George Konstantinidis and Craig Webber
    Best Student Paper Honourable Mention
  • Building a Social Machine for Graduate MobilityNeha Keshan
    Best PhD Symposium Presentation Award

Meet the Authors

This year’s conference featured new books by Rory Cellan-Jones, Cyd Harrell, Azeem Azhar, Pablo J. Boczkowski, Uta Kohl and Jacob Eisler, and held a special “Meet the Authors” event featuring a new Web Science book “Four Internets” by WST colleagues Kieron O’Hara and Wendy Hall.

“Four Internets” has received critical praise for a timely analysis of cyberspace governance issues and possible futures of a “Splinternet” resulting from the complex and subtle transformation/reshaping of the original vision of a single, unified Internet. The book includes a foreword by Internet pioneer Vinton Cerf.

Find out more

Interviewing the host of Untangling the Web – Noshir Contractor

Untangling the Web is the brainchild of WST Trustee Noshir Contractor and seeks to lay out and examine some of the key issues in Web Science through an informal discussion series in which he invites colleagues to talk about their work and the challenges they face. Ian Brown from WST speaks to Noshir about the series.

IB: What was the driver behind starting a new podcast around Web Science?

Noshir: We are trying to make Web Science more accessible for listeners by approaching real-world challenges and problems, and talking about them from the perspective of people and technology interacting at a huge (often global) scale. You don’t need to know any formal Web Science to listen to this series and to learn something about key challenges and opportunities that emerge from so much digital data mixed with so many people.

IB: How is something like Web Science different from some of the approaches that listeners may be more familiar with like Data Science or Information Science?

Noshir: Actually, defining Web Science in formal terms can be tough, and yet we so often see opportunities and problems that Web Science is uniquely placed to analyse and help us to understand.

The secret sauce is that Web Scientists come from a multitude of disciplines – they are trained lawyers, mathematicians, medics, musicians, teachers, technologists, philosophers and everything in between. Bringing this type of expertise together with an understanding of the structure and interactions of networks at large scale creates a unique perspective.

No other discipline that I know, not only allows interdisciplinary thinking in this way but actually demands it. Unless we bring the complexity of people/society in all its forms into an understanding of the Web we cannot hope to scratch the surface of the ways in which the people and technologies impact and influence each other.

IB: You must be very pleased at the reception you’ve had for the first series. You’ve already put out more than 20 episodes – what’s next for Untangling the Web?

Noshir: We are excited to present a new set of guests including several thought leaders and a mixture of discussions about the past history of technology and the Web through to current research and upcoming challenges and opportunities.

We’re planning some really interesting episodes over the next few months including a special 25th episode interview with Sir Nigel Shadbolt from Jesus College, Oxford so keep an eye on the website and subscribe to the series on iTunes, Spotify or your favourite Podcast platform.

IB: Have any episodes particularly stood out for you so far or are there other upcoming guests you can tell us about ..?

Noshir: Its hard to pick a favourite but I was keen to interview Aleks Krotoski (the author who inspired the name for the podcast). We spoke about how our online lives have become entangled with our offline ones. Her research has found that we bring our existing ideas about society into the virtual worlds we build, but unlike in the past, there’s less space to play around with our identities online. Oh, and there are more consequences – for many people – from the things they did 10 or 15 years ago which can still pop up when you search their name online.

IB: Really timely and interesting stuff. Congratulations on a successful launch and we look forward to the new series

Noshir: Thanks very much – obviously it’s a team effort and thanks go out to all the people behind the scenes that make something like this happen. It’s hard work but we think it’s worth it.

Visit the Podcast Homepage

Saying Hello to two new trustees:

We are delighted to announce two new trustees who are joining WST: Jennifer Zhu Scott, whose work with the World Economic Forum is well known and who brings deep experience of emerging technologies and global governance issues.

Jennifer Zhu Scott

Bill Thompson, experienced BBC technology broadcaster, head of future value research at BBC R&D, and long-time supporter of Web Science, will also join the WST Board completing the new trustee line-up. He is passionate about the Web, Web Science and keeping data safe and accessible through the power of open source and archiving.

Bill Thompson

Upcoming Events

We are delighted to have handed the torch over from Southampton to Barcelona for ACM WebSci’22 which will run from 27th-30th June. We will report on further details as the program develops.

Please note that the conference site is https://websci22.webscience.org and will be updated in the near future.

Keep an eye out for updates/notifications on Facebook and using the Twitter hashtags #websci22 #websciconf and #webscience


Thank you as always for subscribing to the WST Newsletter. We look forward to seeing you in the next edition. If you have any events, courses and news that you would like to share across the WST network please do get in touch via email using: info@webscience.org.

Subscribe to our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter. Visit our WST homepage for more news and updates on upcoming events.

Check out our new-look website!!

Best wishes,
Web Science Trust Team


UTW Episode 21: Taha Yasseri

Dating on the Web

For this episode, we talk with Taha Yasseri, an associate professor at the School of Sociology and a Geary Fellow at the Geary Institute for Public Policy at University College Dublin, Ireland. He has been a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Oxford, a Turing Fellow at the Alan Turing Institute for Data Science and AI, and a Research Fellow at Wolfson College at the University of Oxford.  He is interested in the dynamics of social machines on the Web.

During this episode, Taha tells us all about dating on the Web — from who initiates conversations (spoiler alert: there’s a big gender gap) to what traits people value in a partner. Some of these are age-old questions, answered by new web science methods. And he discusses his research outside of that realm, from people and bots that “fight” on Wikipedia to how the web impacts our “collective memory.” To hear to all this and more, listen to this episode.