Today was the official opening of the Web Sci conference. The day started with a keynote session titled ‘Best of Web Science 2018’. The papers in this session were all nominated for the best paper award. All of the papers were good and presented some excellent work. Reuben Binns from Oxford University presented a paper titled ‘Third party tracking in the mobile ecosystem’. Interestingly Reuben showed us pictures of his cat called Ava, who likes to watch birds on Reuben’s phone and falls asleep on the tablet. Reuben made some interesting points about the safety of apps which collect your data, this has implications for apps aimed at children, and are being profiled for marketing purposes. Olga Zagovora from the University of Koblenz-Landau presented a paper titled ‘Collective Attention towards Scientists and Research Topics’. Olga’s research asked what came first: the scientist or the research topic? When does the scientist gain interest from the public? Presenting data from Wikipedia that gauges the level of interest from the public in particular scientists before and after they have received an award.

The afternoon divided into two paper sessions with different themes. I went to the one titled ‘Digging into Social Networks’. There were some fascinating talks and it was hard to choose which to write about. Srishti Gupta from Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology presented a paper called ‘Under the Shadow of Sunshine: Characterizing Spam Campaigns Abusing Phone Numbers Across Online Social Networks’. This was an engaging talk about how scammers identify people on social networks, where the attacks come from, and what platforms blacklist the spammers. Srishti recorded the spam calls and analyzed the language through google Speech, reviewing the content to identify the country of origin of the spammer, a lot of which came from Indonesia. 

What an amazing day! There is a poster event shortly to look at some more innovative research and later there is a social event for PhD students of WSTNet to meet and discuss what they would like from the network and to discuss how they can get involved. Look out for the blog about this!