I had the privilege of attending WebSci09, earlier this month. This was the first conference on web science, and a real mishmash of disciplines were represented. Topics included access to scholarly literature, parallels between WebSci and cognitive science, conversing between disciplines (Engineering and Humanities / CompSci and Sociology in particular), and so on.
The conference included some rather inspiring keynotes (particularly those by TimBL and Nosh Contractor), and of course, many networking opportunities. I have made a couple of connections which I hope to follow up
I presented my poster on the second day, and spoke to all manner of people from various disciplines. I was surprised to be interviewed by a journalist from a French IT news company, but it’s all good! As with Cumberland Lodge, it was a great experience to present my work to people who weren’t necessarily CompScis.
A quick sample of papers which struck me:
* perceptions of extremist activity online – the long tail of the online marketplace as applied to religious extremism (lower costs of reaching niches).
* the meaning of URIs – does a URI have a specific, concrete meaning as defined in a dictionary? Or is its meaning what was intended by its owner/originator? What about when meanings change as language shifts?
* Semantic web techs to augment the museum experience in the Netherlands… annotating artefacts in a repository.
* social and tech processes related to the addition of features to wikipedia
* offloading cognition onto the web – devices doing some of the stuff we can do for us, instead of us. This talk discussed a ‘grounding kernel’ of words (you can use a dictionary only if you have a basic set of the language in your possession to start – that’s the kernel), and the relevance of that set of words to the success of Google searches.
All in all, the conference had a real energy to it. Here’s to WebSci’10!