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