Observing Southampton through the Web at ESRC Festival of Social Science

As part of the ESRC Festival of Social Science, the Web Science Institute hosted the event “Observing Southampton through the Web” at the University of Southampton Bolderwood Campus. The event started with an introduction from Susan Halford, Professor of Sociology and also a director of the Web Science Institute at the University of Southampton. She explained the rationale for establishing the Web Science discipline which is to develop a better understanding of the Web, its origin, its impact on the world and vice versa. One of the questions she put forth was how do researchers harvest and analyse historic or real time data.

Dr Ramine Tinati, a research fellow with the SOCIAM group at the University of Southampton and a project member for the Web observatory explained what the Web observatory and the macroscope is. The Web macroscope is an observational deck for the Web and is an interesting tool to visualize data from online activities. He demonstrated how the macroscope works using Southampton as a case study and showing us heat maps of Twitter and Wikipedia activities in Southampton using visualization tools.

Dr Markus Luczak-Roesch, a senior research fellow at the Web and Internet Science group at the University of Southampton talked about the researchers’ dilemma in relation to data ownership, access and ethics. One of the fascinating questions from a member of the audience was “How do you decide if a tweet is an opinion, fact or fiction?”

The session ended with interesting discussions about ethics, data privacy and ownership of data. A storify of the event by Bartosz Paszcza can be found here

Originally published on the Digichamps blog

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