Those who have already read Thomas Rowledge’s excellent piece published yesterday will be aware of the work we did at the Web Science@10 event on Tuesday, so I will do my best not to duplicate what he has said. However, what I will do is say what a fantastic event it was, and pay thanks to all of those who were involved in the organisation and management of the event.
The focus of this blog post, to avoid to duplication and to offer a different perspective, is the two distinguished panels at the event. Both were of course live-streamed, so hopefully you managed to catch them on the day. If you didn’t they will be available as videos to catch up on shortly. Both panels were populated by names at the very top of their respective fields, and all panelists fully “got” Web Science, which was amazing to hear. The first panel was chaired by Bill Thompson, esteemed journalist who was kind enough to organise a tour for the DigiChamps around the BBC earlier this year. With a promise to stick to time given his experience as a radio journalist, Bill began by introducing the panel, which consisted of: Professor Dame Wendy Hall, Doc Searls, Professor Sir Nigel Shadbolt, Liz Brandt and Matt McNeill. This diverse and experienced panel were discussing the subject of trust online. As I said I won’t describe the whole panel session in full, as you can watch the whole session on YouTube. In my opinion, the lively discussion was both conceptual and practical, owing to the healthy balance of academia and business on the panel, but it mainly showed how much more of a discussion was needed around this area. The panel also did not define “trust” which would have perhaps made the discussion more accessible to many but Sir Nigel Shadbolt’s comment about the potential of Web Science should the data silos of GAAFE (Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, eBay) open their doors to academic analysis struck a strong chord with me. As Bill Thompson closed the panel, having unfortunately to ask many members of the audience to lower their hands and save their questions due to time restraints, I mused how the discussion around trust online has only been made possible by Web Science, and how essential it is that the discussion is being had.
With little more than a 10 minute break, the next panel was underway. This featured entirely new panelists, and a new chair in the form of Professor Les Carr. This time, the panelists were discussing Web Science at the Cutting, and the research emerging from the labs all over the world, much of which was explored on the WebScience@10 TV Channel. Again, a high calibre of panelists ensured they were all equally qualified for the discussion. Professor Susan Halford, Dr Pete Burnap, Professor David De Roure and Professor Yi-Ke Guo were all able to stay for the duration, but sadly, Dr Jie Tang had to leave early due to travel constraints. This panel discussion followed the same high standard of the first, debating and discussion research that is way ahead of the curve, and setting the pace for Web innovation. I, like Susan Halford, disagreed with an audience comment that the panel was one of negativity, as I felt that the panel was recognising the challenges faced by the growth of the Web, and the changes in society, but proposed that they were analysable, solvable, and in most cases not as negative as many feel.
You may be able to, and indeed hopefully you can, tell how much I enjoyed both panels, and how much of a privilege it was to be able to talk to so many “big names” in the field. To say you have been in a room as panels including Heads of Cloud Services at Google, CEO’s of international companies and acclaimed academics debate the very issues you discuss in lectures, is surely not something many other undergraduates can say…Happy Birthday Web Science!