On July 6-13, the second Web Science Doctoral Summer School was held in Galway, Ireland, drawing over 50 attendees from across Europe, as well as from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the USA. Hosted by the National University of Ireland’s Digital Enterprise Research Institute, the summer school included lectures and tutorials from a number of eminent scholars as well as group mini-projects and a student poster session.


The school opened with a keynote from Wendy Hall, discussing how the social links that make us human are key to understanding “social machines” like the Web. She touched also on challenges — both for studying Web Science (like the fast-moving nature of the Web and the need to bridge technologists and social scientists) and for the continued success of the Web itself (such as net neutrality, freedom from paywalls, and the need for failure tolerance).

Talks were multidisciplinary: for instance, graph and network analysis were discussed from the perspectives of sociology and computer science, using communications networks, online social networks, and internet infrastructure as examples.

Social web topics were particularly prominent, with talks on mining and monitoring social media, analyzing the dynamics and structure of online social networks, and privacy and data portability in online and mobile social networking. Theoretical perspectives on social computational systems and the Web of human experience also contributed to this thread.  The Semantic Web and Linked Data were also discussed in several presentations, especially in the context of open government data and social web vocabulary SIOC.

The social highlight of the summer school was a day trip to the Aran Islands, the westernmost point of Europe, where wonderful sunny weather resulted in quite a few unexpected sunburns, as well as a human hashtag spelling out #webscience2011

The best miniproject went to Afnan Al-Subaihin, Hugo Hromic, and Natalia Pobedina for their experiments with Twitter bots to help encourage newcomers to integrate into communities. Other group projects involved analyzing existing webscience research to improve the WebScience butterfly, analyzing the online Web science community, understanding the social network of the summer school using nodeXL and a participant survey, and building a semantic web application using the Sindice API.

The best poster went to Ioana Hulpus for her “Bridging the gap between document hierarchical clustering and human knowledge”. Selected poster proceedings are at http://wiki2011.webscience.deri.ie/websci2011/

PDFs of all the presentations can be downloaded from: http://wiki2011.webscience.deri.ie/websciwiki2011/Presentations

Video lectures, which were live streamed during the summer school, are now available online via Vimeo: http://vimeo.com/deri

Mark your calendar: The next Web Science Doctoral Summer School will be held in Leiden, The Netherlands, 9-13 July 2012.

Reported by Jodi Schneider