The Web Science Trust (WST) is a charity promoting the understanding of the Web, through education and research in the discipline of Web Science. It co-ordinates the Web Science network (WSTNet) of leading Web Science laboratories from around the world.
The origins of the Web Science Trust can be found in the Web Science Research Initiative (WSRI) which was established in 2006. WSRI was originally set up as a Memorandum of Understanding between MIT CSAIL and the University of Southampton with the ambition to coordinate and support the study of the World Wide Web.
Since the launch of this Initiative, the concept of Web Science has been widely disseminated and has established itself as an important area of activity.
WSRI historically focused on:
- articulating a research agenda for the broader scientific community
- coordinating the development of Web Science educational material and curricula
- engaging in thought leadership for this emerging field.
In order to continue with these activities and expand its focus beyond education, the Directors of WSRI established a charitable body – the Web Science Trust (WST) – to succeed WSRI.
Today we have firmly established the growing field of Web Science research with an annual ACM conference, peer-reviewed journals and regular learning events for both researchers and the general public. We have many universities formally working with us as members of the WST network (WSTNet), whilst many more research groups globally share our interest in various elements of the study of the Web and the development of complex socio-technical systems. Some are (re) discovering Web Science from their own perspectives (using different names/banners, though we believe they are driven by the same the clear and present need to study the Web).
The founding of Web Science has thus opened new perspectives in many other fields and disciplines, which creates a much needed virtuous circle of technologists contributing to the creation of social research and social scientists bringing new perspectives on research into the nature and use of technology.