Wendy’s keynote

Wendy Hall gave a really nice keynote today. Among other things, she questioned what is and is not web science, remarking that the Web conference is not WebSci! In other words, pure engineering, standards and development ain’t WebSci. She also remarked on disciplinary differences, that getting a social scientist to the web conference is impossible: it’s simply too expensive, costing perhaps a thousand euros while social science conferences cost 200 – 300.

A few bulletpoints about other areas she touched upon:
* The importance of the net neutrality debate — if we fragment the web, what will happen?
* The web as co-constituted, as a verb not a noun. For more, see A Manifesto for WebScience
* A lovely analogy, new to me: back in the early days of hypertext, there was discussion in the community of whether to allow links to fail. How does that apply today in the world of linked data?
* Wendy’s current definition of WebSci (as coined by TimBL) is that: Web Science is the theory and practice of social machines.
* Mashups with open UK government data — crime rates, education, all sorts — and the implications of these. We now have URIs for schools, hospitals, roads, bus stops…
* The web changes faster than we can observe it… so the problem is working out how we observe it and how we study it. At the mo, we mostly capture datasets at a particular point in time; we take snapshots.
* People in third world countries are increasingly getting online via the mobile web. What’s it going to be like when we share social networks with people who are starving?
* Social links are key — part of what make us human
* The Times paywall stops us sharing information socially. The web is a social machine. Pay walls are not.
* We spent years worrying about what the semantic web was, how to define this and that, when we should have been putting the data up. Well, we’ve at least begun to do that!

She closed by talking about how we need a Web Science observatory, a way to take the temperature of the web. The web is the digital planet and we need to look after it — if we don’t, who will?

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3 responses to this post.

  1. […] Copyright ‘n’ legal « Wendy’s keynote […]

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  2. […] week with a great range of speakers and topics… for instance, see my write-ups of talks from Wendy Hall, Bernie Hogan and Marc Smith, not to mention my rants about data and social […]

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  3. […] — a phrase which put me in mind of Wendy Hall‘s framing of Web Science as “the theory and practice of social machines.” However, he also remarks: This panoply of ideas, critiques, art, designs, and reflections at times […]

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