Wednesday, 23 March 2011

What is web science?

This post is WIP as part of an exercise preparing for a symposium which we plan to hold in Montpellier some time in May. As I worked through the process I was reminded that a key topic in web science is provenance and trust. I also understand that web science is of course inter-disciplinary, but suggest that the phrase 'web science' is going through an extended period of "negotiated understanding of meaning".

I am interested in definitions and explanations manifest via text, images and videos. I am taking the canonical web pages as coming from - and will provide links to various classic definitions, but at this stage I am also particularly interested in what people outside of the web science trust think web science is. That means I will be interested in the differences and similarities between the canonical and emerging definitions, and seeing if I can make any inferences from that data.

Coming from Southampton, teaching on our Web Science Masters and having been at the finges of Web Science since its inception, I have a bit of an idea to begin with, and of course turn to the classic XXXX cluster diagram we all know and love.

you can take the simple version

Screen shot 2011 03 23 at 12 24 46

or the more elaborate version

Screen shot 2011 03 23 at 12 20 47

Nigel Shadbolt's WebScience Cluster Diagram

if you go to the web science trust facebook page you will find that people have been tagged within this diagram (ho ho)

Nigel Shadbolt and Wendy Hall both have videos answering the question "What is Web Science?" and Les Carr has a slide share titled What is Web Science

Taking the everyday approach

I intend in subsequent posts to take a more measured academic approach to the definition. Meantime I am working on the sort of approach that I think an everday kind of person might use - search engines plus wikipedia. I am also only presenting generic information in this post. I plan at least two future editions

  1. educational/curriculum approach
  2. published research and current projects

so if we try to find out what is web science, what are the various versions suggested?

First take simple google searches, using web science, web science definitons, "web science" definitions

I should note that I have been following a google search on Web Science as a search term for some time, and also have been tracking "web science" and "websci" on twitter.

Also if I have already looked at this area in a posting on the 2010 Web Science Curriculum Workshop held in Southampton Last year

Simple Searches is a social network which gathered its first members in November 2006. It describes itself as a social network for web science, includes collection of bookmarks, but unfortuantely the last time any were recommended by the editors was late 2010. Inevitably it suffers from spam postings, and simple bookmarking to links which are basically web applications. There are no

it seems to have a strong european input, and its greatest contributor is one Janos Haits from Budapest, Hungary


have some interesting visualisations which can be compared to the original sourced from the web science trustScreen shot 2011 03 23 at 11 21 53

they also have a visualisation tool which is quite interesting

Screen shot 2011 03 23 at 11 25 12


there are of course folk trying to get into the act by proposing journals - it is worth noting that is hosted by the WebScience Trust wiki and is a repository of proceedings from the Web Science conferences and other events which have been nominated by the WebScience Trust.


for example

Does not actually seem to be up and running yet, but I guess people are trying to get on the bandwagon.

International Journal of Web Science  (IJWS) ISSN (Online): 1757-8809  -  ISSN (Print): 1757-8795

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