Summer 2020 Newsletter

Summer Newsletter

Welcome to the Summer (remote, locked-down and socially distanced) WST newsletter. With the fully virtual ACM WebSci’20 all done and dusted, we look at the challenges of virtual working, link to a spotlight piece on one of our WSTNet Labs and talk about the new Web Science podcast series.  

In This Issue:

The Rise of the New “VC” 
WebSci’20 Southampton: A Virtual SuccessWSTNet Lab Profile: RPI
Web Science Manifesto 2020New Web Science Podcast SeriesSay Hello – Wave GoodbyeRecent PublicationsRecent and Upcoming Events

The Rise of the New VC

Whilst VC chiefly used to stand for “Venture Capital” in the business world and “Vice Chancellor” in Academia, the huge impact of COVID-19 on travel and face-to-face meetings (both now and the foreseeable future) has re-focused both the personal and work parts of our lives on the “Video Conference” and we predict that academia will also see an increasing and perhaps permanent growth in remote teaching/learning, remote research collaboration and partially or entirely “Virtual” conferences.

Click here to read the full article.

 WebSci’20 Southampton: A Virtual Success

 ACM Web Science (now in its 12th year) ran as a fully virtual event hosted by the Web Science Institute (WSI) at the University of Southampton from July 7th-July 10th 2020.

Despite all the challenges around COVID and having to re-organise the conference just weeks before the event, the team were able to deliver a conference with the highest ever number of attendees, great quality papers and an amazing line up of guest speakers and panelists. Attendees logged to join hosted talks, panels, Q&A sessions and paper sessions from around the world and the organisers are delighted with both the quality and feedback from the conference.

The organisers reported that the event was so successful as a virtual conference that plans are already underway to run an expanded version for WebSci’21. To look back at the event the WebSci’20 conference website is available with links to selected materials from the event. 

Throughout the five-day event, delegates from as far afield as Africa and Australia participated in panel debates and paper sessions exploring the future of the Web, particularly in the age of COVID-19.

One of the WebSci’20 panels including internet pioneer Vint Cerf was  broadcast by the BBC as part of the BBC Digital Planet Podcast.

Another highlight of the week was the gathering of the original Web Science Research Initiative (WSRI) founders – an initiative that was set up in 2006 between Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Southampton to coordinate and support the study of the World Wide Web. Summing up the conference, Chair Wendy Hall said: “The conference was a great success and because it was online it enabled more speakers and delegates to be able to access it. I strongly believe that is the way forward for future conferences.”The conference hosts have collected a series of summary blog posts which can be found here.

The conference highlight reel can be seen here WebSci’20 Highlight reel – with thanks to Lisa Harris and Jake Foster

WSTNet Lab Profile: RPI

RPI (the Renssellaer Polytechnic Institute) is based in Troy, New York state comprising 30 research centres and over 750 PhD students. These research teams are engaged in projects worth over $100 million.   

RPI’s Center for Computational Innovations (CCI) is home to one of the most powerful (eight petaflop) supercomputers on the November 2019 Top 500 ranking of supercomputers (named AiMOS – Artificial Intelligence Multiprocessing Optimized System). RPI is making AiMOS available (in partnership with IBM, academic institutions, and national labs) to understand and address the threat of COVID-19.

RPI hosts the Tetherless World Constellation (TWC) which is an active WSTNet laboratoryassociated with the Web Science community.Deborah McGuinness is a professor in the computer science and cognitive science departments and the director of the Web Science Research Center at Rensselaer. She is a leading expert on knowledge representation and reasoning languages, ontology creation and evolution environments, and provenance.  

Deborah McGuinness
Click here to see TWC’s WSTNet Page
Click here to visit the RPI website

Click here to see the full article

Web Science Manifesto 2020 
The updated manifesto was presented July 9 in the Spotlight Panel: Research Roadmap at the ACM International Conference on Web Science. It was finalized before Covid-19 hit hard globally, but its statements have become even more important as lockdowns and social distancing have forced so many human activities online. This Manifesto synthesizes and extends results from the Perspectives Workshop “10 Years of Web Science” that took place at Schloss Dagstuhl from June 24 – 29, 2018.

Click here to read the full article

New Web Science Podcast Series 
The Web Science Trust is excited to announce the launch of a series of Web Science podcasts in association with the team at SONIC, led by Prof. Noshir Contractor. The new series is called Untangling the Web and features live interviews of leading thinkers and researchers in Web Science and on Web Science-related topics. Untangling the Web is a podcast of the Web Science Trust, a charity promoting the understanding of the Web, through education and research in the discipline of Web Science.On this podcast, we bring thought leaders from around the world to explore how the Web is shaping society and how society in turn is shaping the Web. We hope to improve our understanding of the Web, promote the Web’s positive impact on society – and change the Web for the betterUntangling the Web launched at WebSci’20 and will be available soon on Apple, Spotify and other Podcasts platforms. As part of the initial program, our first two podcasts can be found here or on the main WST site.Say Hello – Wave GoodbyeNo new Labs this time but a new lab director and an upcoming appointment for the WSTNet chair. Dr. Emilio Ferrara takes over as new Lab Director at USC and has been nominated as new WSTNet director from January 2021 taking over from Prof. Steffen Staab who will be joining the main WST board of trustees. Prof. Tat Seng Chua from National University of Singapore (NUS) becomes Deputy Director of WSTNet.

Recent Publications
The best papers for WebSci’20 can be seen on the main conference website here.
We presented two “meet the author” sessions at the conference: 

"Lie Machines" by Philip N. Howard
Phil Howard discussed his new book “Lie Machines: How to Save Democracy from Troll Armies, Deceitful Robots, Junk News Operations, and Political Operatives”ISBN: 9780300250206
Language: EnglishPublisherYale University Press (23 Jun 2020)and 

Front Cover

Sasha Costanza-Chock discussed their book “Design Justice: Community-Led Practices To Build The Worlds We Need”Publisher: MIT Press (3 April 2020)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0262043459This book is also free to read electronically at design justice. 


Head over to the website to see more Web Science publications 

Recent and Upcoming Events July 6th 2020.  Brave Conversations in CyberSpace (Southampton, UK) 
Brave Conversations has become a global event organised by Intersticia running short courses all across the globe for businesses, government and individuals to come together to discuss both the Why and the How of technology in the context of social goods and ethical choices. 

July 7th-10th 2020. 12th Annual ACM Web Science Conference (WebSci’20) Conference hosted (virtually) by the Web Science Institute at the University of Southampton. Details can be found here.

June 28th-July 2nd 2021 Web Science Summer School (WSSS’21) – Caen, France

TBA 2021 13th Annual ACM Web Science Conference (WebSci’21) – Online
 Thank you 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:

Subscribe to our Facebook page and follow us on TwitterVisit our WST homepage for more news and updates on upcoming events. Best wishes,
Web Science Trust Team

Winter Newsletter 2019


Winter Newsletter

It’s been an exciting year and there have been lots of changes. Having wrapped up WebSci19 in Boston we are already focussing on next year’s conference which we are delighted to announce will be coming to the UK and is being hosted by the Web Science Institute in Southampton. In this edition we’ll talk about Tim Berners-Lee’s new Contract for the Web, our newest WSTNet Labs, a new WST Chairman, a new platform to learn about our Labs and spotlight interviews with a WSTNet Student and one of our WSTNet Labs.  

In this issue:

Tim Berners-Lee’s new Contract for the Web
WebSci20 in Southampton
Dame Wendy Hall talks about (…Turing…)
Phil Howard Distinguished Lecture
WSTNet Lab Profile: Fraunhofer FOKUS
PhD Profile: Amir Javed (Cardiff)
Saying Hello/Goodbye
Recent Publications
Recent and Upcoming Events
Tim Berners-Lee’s Contract for the Web

Sir Tim Berners-Lee has launched a website called intended to lay out the behaviour/responsibilities of international internet giants, such as Google and Facebook, national governments and individual web citizens. 

Image result for tim berners lee

The document is 32 pages long and calls itself as “a global plan of action to make our online world safe and empowering for everyone”. It lists nine principles for the Web (three aimed at governments, three for companies and three for individuals) and can be downloaded here as a pdf.

Why add these social rules 30 years after the technical rules were released? The paper claims that whilst the Web “has changed the world for good and improved the lives of billions… (it) comes with too many unacceptable costs”.

The Contract is supported by more than 150 organisations, including GitHub, Reddit and DuckDuckGo and perhaps surprisingly, Facebook and Google who were recently cited by Prof. Berners-Lee as examples of companies with too much market dominance.

WebSci20 coming to Southampton

ACM Web Science (now in its 12th year) will be hosted in the UK at the University of Southampton. The conference will be held in the University’s latest addition, the Centenary Building, which marks its 100 years occupancy of the current site.

The conference website is already up with information about getting to Southampton, and the programme structure. The site will be updated with details of the workshops/tutorials and speaker line-up as these are finalised.

Dame Wendy Hall on Alan Turing

Professor Dame Wendy Hall, Executive Director of WST and head of Southampton’s WSTNet Lab the Web Science Institute (WSI) features in a new series of short films featuring Fellows of the Royal Society discussing their favourite scientists in history. In an interview with Professor Brian Cox, Dame Wendy talks about the life and works of Alan Turing. His contributions in both theoretical research and engineering have, Hall argues, provided a firm grounding for modern computing and data science.

Turing’s  work at Bletchley Park delivered vital elements to the solution for cracking intercepted coded messages from the Enigma machine during World War II that enabled the Allies to create an intelligence advantage. 

“He fought all his life to achieve what he wanted to achieve despite being ‘different’,” … “He epitomises the battle for equality, diversity and inclusion that we are still struggling with today.”

Click here to view the full article and to view the film via the BBC iplayer. 

OII Director Phil Howard Distinguished Lecture

Phil Howard, the new WSTNet Lab Director for the Oxford Internet Institute (OII), was recently invited to deliver a WSI Distinguished Lecture at Southampton.

Tomorrow’s Leviathan: Intelligent Machines in a Political World

When will an Artificial Intelligence run for elected office? This may seem like a strange provocation – just an invitation to futurism and speculation. Yet AI systems are rolling out across economic, cultural and political life. Phil explored how AI is changing our experience of politics and rewriting democracy’s “terms of service”.

Click here to read more about Phil and to watch a replay of his lecture.

WSTNet Lab Profile: Fraunhofer FOKUS

Fraunhofer FOKUS is an internationally renowned research institute in the area of information and communication technology. Emphasis is on applied research to facilitate digital transformation. Since 1988, Fraunhofer FOKUS has supported commercial enterprises and public administration in shaping digital transformation through research services ranging from requirements analysis to consulting, feasibility studies, technology development right up to prototypes and pilots. 

FOKUS is managed by Prof. Manfred Hauswirth who has been the executive director of the Institute since October 2014 and holds the chair of “Open Distributed Systems” at the Technische Universität Berlin. Since October 2019 Prof. Hauswirth has been co-spokesman for the field of quantum computing at the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. In addition, from 2016 to 2018 he was spokesman of Fraunhofer’s Berlin Center for Digital Transformation. 

He previously served as Deputy Director of the Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI) in Galway, Ireland which was previously a member of WSTNet.  
In his research work, he engages particularly with distributed information systems, the internet of things, data stream processing and artificial intelligence.

We asked Manfred about his take on Web Science …  

Click here to read the full article
Click here to visit the FOKUS website
WSTNet Student Profile: Amir Javed

Amir is based at Cardiff where he is completing a PhD where his main focus is on “drive-by” cyber attacks as they relate both to the impact on affected machines and also the social networks and social engineering that are involved in driving the attacks.  

Amir is looking for early warning signs of infection and identifying suspicious users and activities to inoculate against drive-by attacks.

“I’m based at Cardiff University and my focus is on a particular type of cyber attack called “drive-by downloads” which are typically combined with social media posts on platforms like Twitter”
We spoke to Amir about his current research, future plans and how Web Science relates to his approach.

Click here to read the full article

 Amir has submitted his Thesis and is shortly to be appointed a lecturer at Cardiff
Say Hello / Goodbye

Our current WST chairman Prof. Jim Hendler is stepping down this year but we are delighted to report he is staying on the Board of Trustees. His successor is JP Rangaswami who has been on the Board for several years and is passionate about Web Science in all its forms. Welcome to the chair JP!

All good things come to an end and we are sad to say goodbye to John Taysom who is stepping down as a WST Trustee and we would like to thank him for his service, his energy and wisdom.

WSTNet continues to grow steadily and we are delighted to announce that the School of Computer Engineering and Science at Shanghai University is the latest Lab to join the network indicating the growing interest in Web Science in China.  Our two Labs in Oxford (OeRC and OII) will become one under OII and its new Director Phil Howard.

Recent Publications

Head over to the website to see more Web Science publications
Recent and Upcoming Events
July 6th – 7th 2020.  Brave Conversations in Southampton. Venue TBA

Brave Conversations has become a global event organised by Intersticia running short courses all across the globe for businesses, government and individuals to come together to discuss both the Why and the How of technology in the context of social goods and ethical choices.

July 7-10th 2020.  12th Annual ACM WebSci20 Conference at University of Southampton (Registration coming soon)

WebSci will be running an extended programme next year offering a special public Symposium in addition to the more familiar workshops and plenary sessions.  The Call for Papers is available on the website and can be found here
Thank you 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:

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

We hope you enjoy the new Newsletter – please don’t hesitate to let us know what you think and if we can improve our service.  Send us an email to
Best wishes,
Web Science Trust Team

Summer 2019 Newsletter

Following a successful ACM Web Science conference in Boston, we would like to welcome you to the first edition of the Web Science Trust (WST) Newsletter. We will be bringing you a summary of notable news and upcoming events at WST HQ and throughout the WST Network.

Our goal is to help WST supporters get the most from our service by providing news and information about publications and opportunities to meet up.

In this edition, we will be featuring our newest WSTNet Lab and meeting one of our PhD students who will talk about her work. We’ll be looking at coverage of the Web’s 30th anniversary, reviewing recent publications, including an important new book on Social Machines. We’ll sketch out recent and upcoming events, looking back at the recent ACM Web Science Conference in Boston and forward to ACM WebSci 2020 which will be hosted in the UK by the Web Science Institute at the University of Southampton.

In this issue:

ACM Web Science Conference
The 30th Anniversary of the Web
Professor Susan Halford on Digital Futures
WSTNet Lab Profile: IIT Madras
PhD Profile: Ipek Baris, WeST University of Koblenz-Landau
Recent Publications
Recent and Upcoming Events

ACM WebSci Conference

ACM WebSci 2019 has just wrapped up at Northeastern University and we want to congratulate everyone who put in so much work to make it possible and also everyone who delivered papers, posters and workshops during the conference. 

It was a great event in beautiful Boston and we are pleased to announce that the 12th WebSci conference is coming to the UK in 2020 with next year’s event to be hosted by the Web Science Institute at the University of Southampton.

30th Anniversary of the Web

Tim Berners-Lee ambitiously called his fledgling system a “world-wide” web even though at the start it probably didn’t feel very global. 30 years on, his vision of connecting information across servers, networks and locations has become nearly as indispensable for government, business and academia as power and light. We can read Tim’s own account in his book “Weaving the Web” including the famous anecdote of his boss’ pithy summary of the original proposal for the Web: “Vague…but exciting!!”

How fortunate, Tim commented at a recent 30th Anniversary talk, that he hadn’t chosen instead to write “Exciting …but vague!!. Click here for more links to 30th Anniversary pieces.

Professor Susan Halford on Digital Futures

In a world where society and technology interact to create rapid change, writers, scientists and individuals alike continue to ask how exactly will this affect our futures? This question is one of the core principles of Web Science and was the focus of a recent presentation at Southampton from Susan Halford (Professor of Sociology at the University of Bristol). To read more about the presentation follow this link.   

WSTNet Lab: IIT Madras

Our new feature series profiling the labs of WSTNet kicks off with a look at the Indian Institute of Technology at Madras. IIT Madras is the latest lab to join WSTNet. Head over to the website to read more about the lab or read about the Web Science Symposium held in Madras earlier this year   

PhD Profile: Meet Ipek Baris

Meet Ipek Baris – a first year PhD student at WeST University of Koblenz-Landau, who is part of our new series showcasing the work of Web Science PhD students across the globe. Ipek’s research is sponsored by the Co-Inform project of the European Union. The project aims to research and develop tools and methodologies for combating online misinformation. Read about Ipek’s research here   

Recent Publications

  • Halford, Susan, Hendler, James A., Ntoutsi, Eirini, Staab, Steffen (2019). 10 Years of Web Science: Closing The Loop (Dagstuhl Perspectives Workshop 18262). Schloss Dagstuhl (vol 8, issue 6) 173-198pp.

Head over  to see more Web Science publications

Recent and Upcoming Events 

11th ACM Conference on Web Science 2019 – (June 30th – July 3rd), Boston, MA, USA

Brave Conversations – (July 16th), London, UK

WSTNet Web Science Summer School 2019 – (September 9th – 13th), University of Southampton, UK

Thank you 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.

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

If you want to let the team know about news, events and courses that you’d like us to feature on the website and on social media send us an email using:  




We hope you enjoy the new Newsletter – please don’t hesitate to let us know what you think and if we can improve our service.  Send us an email to

Best wishes,

Web Science Trust Team