UTW Episode 26: Sandra González-Bailón

The Role of Research

In this episode, we chat with Sandra González-Bailón, who is on the faculty at the Annenberg School for Communication. Her research lies at the intersection of network science, data mining, computational tools and political communication. She is the author of Decoding the Social World, published by MIT Press in 2017, and was also the keynote speaker of the ACM Web Science Conference in 2019.

During this conversation, Sandra discussed some of her research about people’s news exposure — and what it surprisingly revealed. She also explains how the medium of data that gets studied — the web v.s. apps data and desktop v.s. mobile data — can impact results. And she digs into how exactly research can help the world — but also that the world needs to know the right questions to ask. To hear all this and more, take a listen of this episode.

 

UTW Episode 25: Nigel Shadbolt

Semantic Web Science

In this special 25th episode of Untangling the Web, we talk with one of the founders of web science, Professor Sir Nigel Shadbolt. He’s Principal of Jesus college and professorial Research Fellow in Computer Science at the University of Oxford.  As information adviser to the United Kingdom government, he encouraged the release of many 1000s of public sector data sets. He was knighted in 2013 for services to science and engineering.

During this episode, Nigel recounts some of those founding conversations and intentions surrounding the creation of the web science field, as well as some of his more recent work. Nigel, who was on the forefront of the Semantic Web, also explains exactly what that means — and what the web might look like today if it had expanded. To hear to this and more, listen to this episode.

 

UTW Episode 24: Azeem Azhar

On the Exponential

For this episode, we talk with Azeem Azhar, an entrepreneur, investor and author. Previously, he founded PeerIndex, a big data analytics firm acquired in 2015. And his first book, “The Exponential Age: How Accelerating Technology is Transforming Business, Politics and Society,” was just published this month.

Azeem was an early user of the Web — he takes us back to those days and tells us about some of the first social media sites. Then, he describes what it was like when platforms like Facebook and Twitter were much more open, which also allowed more data to be collected. But he also brings us to the present, where we live in the “exponential age.” He breaks down exactly what that means and more in this latest episode.

 

UTW Episode 23: Rory Cellan-Jones

Reporting on the Web

In this episode, we talk with journalist Rory Cellan-Jones. He’s reported for BBC for 40 years, and for much of that time primarily focused on business and technology stories. He has covered everything from smartphones to social media and more. He’s just published a new book, which he spoke about at this year’s ACM Web Science conference.

For this episode, Rory talks about some of the biggest and best stories of his career at BBC and beyond.  He was there to see this generation’s “model Ford” moment, when Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone. He was the reporter who’s question triggered Stephen Hawking to say AI could make humans obsolete. Rory reflects on these moments and what he calls the “social smartphone era” in this episode. Take a listen to hear this and more.

 

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.

 

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.