WSTnet Lab Profile: Inria

Inria is the French national research institute for digital science and technology. World-leading research and technological innovation are an integral part of its DNA. Inria’s 3,500 researchers and engineers put their passion for digital technology to work in nearly 200 project teams, most of which are joint teams with our academic partners, including major research universities and the CNRS. They explore new fields, often in collaboration with different disciplines and industrial partners, with the aim of meeting ambitious challenges.

As a technology institute, Inria supports the development of numerous software products, sometimes making a global impact via the open source model. Because technology start-ups are powerful channels for research outcomes, Inria also supports entrepreneurial risk-taking and start-up creation (Deeptech). Firmly established on major university campuses and in industrial ecosystems, the Institute is at the heart of the digital revolution.

Our role is to further the progress of risky, ambitious projects in the fields of science and digital technology: Inria enables researchers and innovators to nurture either scientific or entrepreneurial projects, before helping to move them forward.

Our responsibility is to create value on a large scale both for society and for the economy , helping to boost France’s appeal and standing.

Inria is a place for scientific vitality, where research is organized based on agile project team model. Its mission is to accelerate, through digital research and innovation, the construction of France’s scientific, technological and industrial leadership in European dynamics.

 Today Inria has 3 500 Researchers & Engineers working in 200 Project Teams located in 9 research centers at the heart of major research universities in France. Inria also had 93 international associated teams active in 2019 with academic institutions from other countries. 


Fabien Gandon is a Research Director and Senior Researcher at Inria, France.

Fabien’s PhD in 2002 pioneered the joint use of distributed artificial intelligence (AI) and semantic Web to manage a variety of data sources and users above a Web architecture. Then, as a research project leader at Carnegie Mellon University (USA), he proposed AI methods to enforce privacy preferences in querying and reasoning about personal data. In 2004, recruited as a researcher at Inria, he started to study models and algorithms to integrate social media and knowledge based AI systems on the Web while keeping humans in the loop. In 2012 he became the representative of Inria at W3C and founded Wimmics, a joint research team on bridging social and formal semantics on the Web with AI methods. In 2017 he established and became the director of the joint research laboratory between Inria the QWANT search engine.

Fabien remarked :

“In Web Science, we should build our research program as a joint effort with two research fields born in the 50s: “AI” for Artificial Intelligence and “IA” for Intelligence Amplification and Intelligence Augmentation. The Web Science research agenda must account for the fact that the long term potential of the Web is to augment and link all forms of intelligence.”

The same year he also became responsible for the research convention between the Ministry of Culture and Inria with a special interest for cultural data and applications. In 2018 Fabien became Vice Head of Science for the research center of Inria Sophia Antipolis – Méditerranée. Over the years and since 2002, Fabien also never stopped teaching Semantic Web and Linked data, and he authored several MOOCs on the topic.

Many research topics at Inria have a direct impact on the Web: Data and knowledge representation and processing; Networks and Telecommunications; Optimization, Learning, and Statistical Methods; Interaction and visualization; Security and Confidentiality; etc. And Inria researchers are internationally recognized and, for instance, Inria received 56 ERC grants since 2007.

Inria has driven digital innovation and research in France and in Europe for over 50 years. Set up to act as a bridge between the academic world and industry, straddling new frontiers in digital research, a pioneer in pushing through new disciplines with their roots in applied mathematics and IT, a pioneer in supporting the dynamism of tech start-ups both in France and across Europe, the Institute has been a visionary and a trailblazer in a range of different fields (computational science, the Internet, the Web). For instance, in 1995, Inria was selected by MIT as a partner within the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium), which is responsible for standardizing web technology, becoming leader of the European hub. Today, Inria continues to support the digital transformation of science, the economy and society as a whole: Inria created 170 startups since 1984 75% of which are in operation or acquired. More than ever, “software is taking over the world”, giving scientists new challenges, opening up new opportunities for tech entrepreneurs, and making it more important than ever to enter into dialogue with society to “make sense of the digital world”. More than ever, Inria is supporting those taking scientific and entrepreneurial risks and research with the biggest possible impact.

Click here to visit the Inria website


WSTnet Student Profile: Simon Jonsson

Simon is completing his second year at the Web Science Institute (WSI) at Southampton where he is working towards a PhD in Web Science on “Increasing engagement and learning performance in educational apps”.

We spoke to Simon about his interest in enhanced learning techniques and how he hopes to contribute towards improved learning experiences at a time when many are relying so heavily on remote and on-line learning approaches. 

Q. Simon tell us about your research topic

A. Well the research is concerned with the design of approaches/elements which increase both the enjoyment and efficiency of the e-learning experience through the creation of a state of “flow”. When we are in state of flow we are typically less distracted, more receptive to the content/material and typically report enjoying the experience more than when not in flow.

Q. Are you looking to make learning more enagaging/enjoyable through gamification?

A. Well thats just the point. Gamification appears to be partly distracting: drawing attention to another aspect of the experience rather than focussing on the experience itself so users are enjoying the gamerather than enjoying the learning. This can be reflected in the speed and depth of learning and ties the sucess of the learning to the sucess of the gamified elements.

Q. How are you testing your approach?

A. Whilst the final approach can be expanded to many factors and combinations I have started in the pilot phase with a simple A/B matrix in which four groups are exposed (or not) to a learning design feature giving rise to AB, A’B, AB’, A’B’ (A and B, NOT A and B, A and NOT B, NOT A and NOT B).

We then test the participants for the length and regularity of engagement and adminisiter tests around the learning and retention. In this way we have a simple model to evaluate the impact of a single feature or feature combination on engagement and performance.

The first phase has used local volunteers whilst the main study will involve releasing the app to the Google Play store to recuit a much larger number of participants.

Q. Have any of the results or insights surprised you so far?

A. One thing which did surprise me was the existence of a large body of education/learning theory which does not seem to be used or implemented in practice. For example, spaced learning was a theory put forward by Ebbinghaus in 1885 and which even today is not always implemented in learning apps.

Q. How will your research continue?

A. Once we have results from a wider Google Play experiment (based on Spanish Language learning) we will review applying any insights to other areas of learning and app design.


Q.  Have any aspects of Web Science been useful here?

A. The most significant aspect of Web Science has been the interdisciplinarity – the opportunity to work with aspects of education coming from a background in Maths and Psychology. That interdisciplinarity is so important.

Good luck with the rest of your research and thanks for taking part.

Web Science workshop in Bangalore, India marks a new WSTnet Lab

IIIT-Bangalore Workshop on Web Science for Development 12-14th Feb 2020

WST exec Dame Wendy Hall is being hosted by IIIT-Bangalore as part of a Web Science for Development series. 

WS4D 2020 Registration: Click Here

The World Wide Web (WWW) is the biggest information construct that the world has ever seen. Nothing like the web ever existed in recorded human history. The web is neither a natural phenomenon, nor is it an artificially engineered system. It is the result of trillions of human decisions made independently. As the web and associated technologies like mobile computing makes inroads into most aspects of our lives, there is a growing urgency to understand how it is affecting humanity as a whole. The interdisciplinary study of Web Science was born in 2006 as a result.

The Web Science for Development (WS4D 2020) workshop is part of the Web Science Research Initiative at IIIT Bangalore. WS4D 2020 is a workshop that brings together professionals from several domains, addressing relevant issues of WWW and humanity.

WS4D 2020 is organised as a 3-day event. The first day on Feb 12th, features an activity called Brave Conversations in partnership with the Web Science Trust and the British Deputy High Commission at India.

The second day Feb 13 2020, features a series of talks by several eminent researchers, practitioners and policy-makers on various topics pertaining to digital societies. Prof. Dame Wendy Hall, Executive Director of the Web Science Institute at the University of Southampton, and Prof. Manish Gupta, head of Google AI Research in India, would be delivering keynote addresses.

Brave Conversations Bangalore Feb 12th 2020

Brave Conversations Bangalore

In association with the International Institute of Information Technology Bangalore, the British Deputy High Commission Bengaluru, the Web Science Institute, University of Southampton, and the Web Science Trust.

WHEN February 12 2020, 9am – 5pm WHERE IIIT-Bangalore Bengaluru, India 560100

Conference Room in the main Administrative Block near Reception, please follow signs. Limited parking available.



Registration:  Info:


The goal of Brave Conversations is to challenge and also empower everyone who participates. There is no pre-requisite of knowledge or expertise, and we seek to encourage as diverse a group of participants as possible from all walks of life, ages and stages.

We will explore the decisions that we make on a minute by minute basis and impact us all on a personal, community, societal and planetary level, in order to make explicit how our engagement with social technologies is changing everything.

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. 

With its business segments: Digital Public Services, Future Applications and Media, Quality Engineering, Smart Mobility, Software-based Networks, Collaborative Safety and Security, Visual Computing and Analytics, Fraunhofer FOKUS covers the main areas that are necessary for the development of ICT based infrastructures in networked environments.

With more than 400 employees in Berlin and an annual budget of 33.7 million Euros, Fraunhofer FOKUS is one of the largest ICT institutes of the Fraunhofer Society. Around 80 percent of its budget is generated through projects from industry and the public domain.

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.  

We asked Manfred about his take on Web Science …  

 “The extension of the traditionally computer science focused Web research to the much broader notion of Web Science has established the Web as a topic of broad research across all disciplines. In Fraunhofer FOKUS we do a lot of research and projects that fall under this umbrella, for example the Weizenbaum Institute and the European Data Portal. We have understood that only a broad and multi-faceted understanding of the Web brings its benefits to fruition for society.”

  • The Weizenbaum Institute is a joint project of Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Universität der Künste Berlin, Technische Universität Berlin, Universität Potsdam, Fraunhofer Institute für Open Communication Systems (FOKUS) and WZB Berlin Social Science Center to investigate the social changes brought about by ongoing digitalization, with a budget of 50 million euros. The aim is to better understand the dynamics, mechanisms and implications of digitalisation. To this end, the Weizenbaum Institute investigates the ethical, legal, economic and political aspects of digital change. This creates an empirical basis for responsible digitalisation. On the basis of the research findings, action options are developed for government, the economy and civil society, in order to shape the digital transformation in a responsible interdisciplinary manner.
  • The European Data Portal (EDP) is the central access point for metadata of Open Data published by public authorities in Europe and offers close to one million datasets, acquired from more than 80 national data providers. We apply a wide range of state-of-the-art web technologies to deliver a sustainable and scalable platform. This includes a microservice architetcure, container technologies, Semantic Web specifications and modern, responsive web frontends.

Prof. Hauswirth engages particularly with distributed information systems, the internet of things, data stream processing and artificial intelligence. He has won several international awards for his work and is active in many scientific and political committees around digitization: He is Director at the Weizenbaum Institute for the Networked Society (the German Internet Institute), Principle Investigator in the Einstein Center Digital Future (ECDF), the Berlin Big Data Center (BBDC) and the Helmholtz-Einstein International Berlin Research School in Data Science (HEIBRiDS). He is also associate editor of the IEEE Transactions on Services Computing and of the ACM Transactions on Internet Technology (TOIT), member of the IEEE Computer Society Conference Advisory Committee, on the supervisory board of the EIT ICT Labs Germany (European Institute of Technology) and, last but not least (!), a Lab Director in the Web Science Trust Network of Laboratories (WSTNet) .

The services of Fraunhofer FOKUS include:

  • development of communication and information technologies, components, platforms and services for digital transformation (specifically for applications domains and also cross-domain)
  • integration, networking and analysis of systems and organizations
  • quality assurance and certification of networked systems and organizational processes
  • practical demonstration, piloting and evaluation of the latest technologies
  • customization of proprietary interfaces and systems to industrial, national and international standards
  • methods and tool development for secure and efficient development for software- based systems