A new book “The Theory and Practice of Social Machines” has been published by Springer. This is an exciting new output from the SOCIAM project in which the University of Southampton was a partner, together with the Universities of Oxford and Edinburgh
Professor Dame Wendy Hall, Executive Director of the Web Science Trust and Executive Director of the Web Science Institute, one of the twenty WSTNet Labs, is one of the authors. She commented:
“The concept of Social Machines is a powerful way of looking at the socio-technical systems enabled by the Web, such as Wikipedia. It is essential to think about them in an interdisciplinary way – social interactions and technological processes co-create systems that can be very empowering for communities, enabling them to define their own problems and seek solutions. This is exactly the sort of sociotechnical research issue that Web Science was designed to pursue.”
The term “Social Machines” was introduced by Tim Berners-Lee in 1999. Today we see them as networks of people and devices at scale, their behaviour co-constituted by human participants and technological components. They harness the power of the crowd, with everyone able to contribute – to document situations, cooperate on tasks, exchange information, or simply to play. Existing social processes may be scaled up, and new social processes enabled, to solve problems, augment reality, create new sources of value, or disrupt existing practice.
One of Dame Wendy’s co-authors, Dr Kieron O’Hara, associate professor of electronics and computer science at Southampton, added:
“The spread of social machines has been amazing, and the research programme was quite prescient. When SOCIAM began in 2012, there was relatively little to study. Now they are very common indeed. The book describes in detail examples from citizen science and healthcare to music and mathematics. We even consider the augmented reality game Pokémon Go!
Partnership and interdisciplinarity have been key, and to that end we’ve benefited greatly from our collaboration with SOCIAM partners at the University of Oxford Computer Science Department, the Oxford e-Research Centre, and the University of Edinburgh Informatics Department. In particular, we should emphasise that our book distils the excellent work of dozens of researchers across the project, although there could only be four names on the cover.”
The new book is the fullest and most complete discussion of social machines yet written. It is authored by Professor Sir Nigel Shadbolt (Trustee of the Web Science Trust), Dr Kieron O’Hara, Professor David De Roure and Professor Dame Wendy Hall and is in the Lecture Notes in Social Networks series. It describes the set of tools and techniques developed within SOCIAM for investigating, constructing and facilitating social machines, considers the ethical issues relating to privacy and trust, and speculates on future research trends.
The SOCIAM project, which was directed by Professor Sir Nigel Shadbolt, ran from 2012-18 and was funded by the EPSRC.
Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, and the recipient of the most prestigious honour in computer science, the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the A.M. Turing Award, will deliver his Turing Lecture as a keynote speaker at the WebSci18 Conference on Tuesday 29 May 2018.
His lecture could not come at a more interesting time for Web Scientists, with the potential scrapping of Net Neutrality in the United States. Berners-Lee tweeted on December 12th, 2017 that Net Neutrality had allowed him to invent the Web and that by removing protections would mean an end to creativity and a disaster for the Internet.
The future of the Web depends on people like Berners-Lee, to act as a kind of steward, who can guide us in the right direction. Definitely, a date to save in the diary! Book your place for the conference now:
Ten years ago this week delegates gathered in Banff, Canada, to hear Tim Berners-Lee present his keynote speech at the World Wide Web Conference. The theme of his talk was the ‘magical’ relationship between the Web’s technical protocols and social conventions – and what the interaction between them meant for newly minted field of Web Science.
Berners-Lee identified two ‘magics’ (stuff we don’t understand yet) at play in this relationship. The first is when the microscopic interaction between two people on the Web scales to produce a new macroscopic phenomenon. The second is the ‘creative magic’ required to identify new microscopic designs that could have positive macroscopic effects.
Incidentally, the keynote inspired Greg Cypes (then Tech. Lead on AOL’s Instant Messenger) to use a brand new Web app – ‘Twitter’ – to use the term ‘Web Science’ for the first time on the platform.
These and many other topics will be discussed next month when experts and researchers gather for WebSci’17, the 9th International Web Science Conference at the Rensselaer Polytechnic in Troy, New York.
As Web researchers gather at the annual World Wide Web Conference in Perth, the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) has named Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the recipient of the 2016 ACM A.M. Turing Award. Berners-Lee, a Professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Honorary Professor at the University of Southampton, was cited for inventing the World Wide Web, the first web browser, and the fundamental protocols and algorithms allowing the Web to scale.
In 1989 Berners-Lee proposed a global hypertext project, to be known as the World Wide Web. Based on the earlier “Enquire” work, it was designed to allow people to work together by combining their knowledge in a web of hypertext documents. He wrote the first World Wide Web server, “httpd“, and the first client, “WorldWideWeb” a what-you-see-is-what-you-get hypertext browser/editor which ran in the NeXTStep environment. This work was started in October 1990, the program “WorldWideWeb” first made available within CERN in December, and on the Internet at large on 6 August 1991 – when the world’s first website, http://info.cern.ch was launched.
In 2004, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his pioneering work. Named in Time magazine’s list of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th century, Berners-Lee was honoured as the “Inventor of the World Wide Web” during the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony, in which he appeared in person, working with a vintage NeXT Computer at the London Olympic Stadium. He tweeted “This is for everyone”, which was spelled out in lights around the stadium.
Central to the universal adoption of the World Wide Web was Berners-Lee’s decision to develop it as open and royalty-free software. Berners-Lee released his libwww software package in the early 1990s, granting the rights to anyone to study, change, or distribute the software in any way they chose. He has continued to guide the project and work with developers around the world to develop web-server code. The popularity of the open source software led to the evolution of early web browsers that are credited with propagating the Web beyond academic and government research settings and making it a global phenomenon.
With the founding of the Web Science Research Initiative (later Web Science Trust) in 2006, Berners-Lee was instrumental in the establishment of Web Science as a multi-disciplinary academic field, and the institution of the annual International ACM Web Science Conference. To mark the 10th anniversary of Web Science he sent a message to via our TV Channel, focussing on the importance and urgency of the research in the field.
The ACM Turing Award, often referred to as the “Nobel Prize of Computing,” is named for Alan M. Turing, the British mathematician who articulated the mathematical foundation and limits of computing. The award will be presented the ACM Awards Banquet on June 24 in San Francisco, California.
Described as ‘a leading light in the development of web services’, Dame Wendy is recognised by Debrett’s for her pioneering role as one of the first computer scientists to embark on serious research into multi- and hyper-media technologies before the existence of the World Wide Web. A Professor of Computer Science within Electronics & Computer Science, Dame Wendy also draws praise as a founding director of the the Web Science Trust, alongside Web pioneer, and WST Senior Fellow, Sir Tim Berners-Lee.
Compiled in consultation with independent expert practitioners and commentators in each of the categories, The Debrett’s 500 was launched in 2014 to identify and celebrate the most influential people in British society. All the people in the Debrett’s 500 are scrutinised for their level of influence in shaping the lives, choices and ideas of others. Dame Wendy has featured in every Debrett’s 500 list since its launch.