Support us | Visit us | Contact us
Organised by Professor Nigel Shadbolt (University of Southampton), Professor Dame Wendy Hall (University of Southampton), Professor James Hendler (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute) and Professor Bill Dutton (University of Oxford).
The World Wide Web has changed almost every aspect of modern life. It touches us all. The Web's billions of pages, links and other resources comprise the largest information fabric in the history of humanity. Yet the Web is rarely approached as an object of scientific study.
What processes have driven the Web's growth, and will they persist? How does large-scale structure emerge from a simple set of protocols? How does the Web work as a socio-technical system? What drives the viral uptake of certain Web phenomena? What might fragment the Web? This interdisciplinary meeting discussed these and other issues as it presents the components of a Science of the Web.
Video recordings of many of the presentations are available below.
The proceedings of this meeting have been published in a special issue of Philosophical Transactions A.
This discussion meeting was followed by a satellite meeting, Web science: exploring the frontier.
Tweet about this meeting using #RSWebSci, or follow us on Twitter @RSWebSci
Professor Nigel Shadbolt FREng, University of Southampton and Web Science Trust, UKIntroduction
Nigel Shadbolt is Deputy Head (Research) of the School of Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton. He is a Director of the Web Science Trust, and of the Web Foundation – organisations that seek to advance our understanding of the Web and promote the Web's positive impact on society. In June 2009 together with Sir Tim Berners-Lee he was appointed a Government Information Advisor to help transform public access to Government information – work which resulted in the data.gov.uk site. In May 2010 the Coalition Government appointed him to the Public Sector Transparency Board that will oversee public data release.
Professor Dame Wendy Hall DBE FRS FREng, University of Southampton and Web Science Trust, UK Organiser
Wendy Hall is a Professor of Computer Science at the University of Southampton in the UK and was Head of the School of Electronics and Computer Science from 2002-2007. Her current research includes applications of the Semantic Web and the development of the Web of Linked Data. She was a co-founder of the Web Science Research Initiative and is currently the managing director of the Web Science Trust
In 2008 she was elected as President of the Association for Computing Machinery; the first person from outside North America to hold this position. She is a member of the Prime Minister’s Council for Science and Technology and is a founding member of the Scientific Council of the European Research Council. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society, a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, and was awarded a DBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list in 2010.
On 1 August 2010 she took up the appointment as Dean of Physical and Applied Sciences at the University of Southampton.
Professor James Hendler, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Web Science Trust, USA Organiser
James Hendler is the Tetherless World Professor of Computer and Cognitive Science, and the Assistant Dean for Information Technology and Web Science, at Rensselaer. He is also a faculty affiliate of the Experimental Multimedia Performing Arts Center (EMPAC), serves as a Director of the UK Web Science Trust, and is a visiting Professor at the Institute of Creative Technology at DeMontfort University in Leicester, UK. Hendler was the recipient of a 1995 Fulbright Foundation Fellowship, is a member of the US Air Force Science Advisory Board, and is a Fellow of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence, the British Computer Society and the IEEE. He is theEditor-in-Chief emeritus of IEEE Intelligent Systems and is the first computer scientist to serve on the Board of Reviewing Editors for Science. In 2010, Hendler was named an “Internet Web Expert” by the US government.
Professor Ramesh Jain, University of California, Irvine, USA (Speaker)Ramesh Jain is an educator, researcher, and entrepreneur. Currently he is a Donald Bren Professor in Information & Computer Sciences at University of California, Irvine. Earlier he served on faculty of Georgia Tech, University of California at San Diego, The university of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Wayne State University, and Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur. He is a Fellow of ACM, IEEE, AAAI, IAPR, and SPIE. His current research interests are in searching multimedia data and creating EventWebs for experiential computing.
Ramesh co-founded four companies, managed them in initial stages, and then turned them over to professional management. These companies were PRAJA in event-based business activity monitoring (acquired by Tibco); Virage for media management solutions and visual information management (a NASDAQ company acquired by Autonomy); and ImageWare for surface modeling, reverse engineering rapid prototyping, and inspection (acquired by SDRC). Currently, he serves as advisor to four companies and is a co-founder of mChron.
Professor William H Dutton, Oxford Internet Institution, UKOrganiser
Professor William H. Dutton is Director of the Oxford Internet Institute, Professor of Internet Studies, University of Oxford, and Fellow of Balliol College. Before coming to Oxford in 2002, he was a Professor in the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California, where he is now an Emeritus Professor. In the UK, he was a Fulbright Scholar 1986-87, and was National Director of the UK's Programme on Information and Communication Technologies (PICT) from 1993 to 1996. His recent publications on the social aspects of information and communication technologies include Society on the Line (Oxford University Press, 1999), and Transforming Enterprise, co-edited (MIT Press, 2005), and World Wide Research: Reshaping the Sciences and Humanities, co-edited with P. Jeffreys (MIT Press, 2010).
Professor Albert-László Barabási, Northeastern University and Harvard Medical School, USAThe structure of the Web
Albert-László Barabási is a Distinguished University Professor at Northeastern University, where he directs the Center for Complex Network Research, and holds appointments in the Departments of Physics, Computer Science and Biology, as well as in the Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women Hospital, and is a member of the Center for Cancer Systems Biology at Dana Farber Cancer Institute. A Hungarian born native of Transylvania, Romania, he received his Masters in Theoretical Physics at the Eötvös University in Budapest, Hungary and was awarded a Ph.D. three years later at Boston University. After a year at the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center, he joined Notre Dame as an Assistant Professor, and in 2001 was promoted to the Professor and the Emil T. Hofman Chair. Barabási recently released on April 29th his newest book "Bursts: The Hidden Pattern Behind Everything We Do" (Dutton, 2010) available in five languages. He has also authored "Linked: The New Science of Networks" (Perseus, 2002), currently available in eleven languages, is co-author of "Fractal Concepts in Surface Growth" (Cambridge, 1995), and the co-editor of "The Structure and Dynamics of Networks" (Princeton, 2005). His work lead to the discovery of scale-free networks in 1999, and proposed the Barabasi-Albert model to explain their widespread emergence in natural, technological and social systems, from the cellular telephone to the WWW or online communities. His work on complex networks have been widely featured in the media, including the cover of Nature, Science News and many other journals, and written about in Science, Science News, New York Times, USA Today, Washington Post, American Scientist, Discover, Business Week, Die Zeit, El Pais, Le Monde, London’s Daily Telegraph, National Geographic, The Chronicle of Higher Education, New Scientist, and La Republica, among others. He has been interviewed by BBC Radio, National Public Radio, CBS and ABC News, CNN, NBC, and many other media outlets.
Lord May of Oxford OM FRS , University of Oxford and Imperial College, London, UKNetworks and webs in ecosystems and financial systems
Robert McCredie May, Lord May of Oxford, OM AC Kt FRS, holds a Professorship jointly at Oxford University and Imperial College, London and is a Fellow of Merton College, Oxford. He was President of The Royal Society (2000-2005), and before that Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Government and Head of the UK Office of Science and Technology (1995-2000). His career includes a Personal Chair in Physics at Sydney University aged 33, Class of 1877 Professor of Zoology and Chairman of the Research Board at Princeton, and in 1988 a move to Britain as Royal Society Research Professor. Particular interests include how populations are structured and respond to change, particularly with respect to infectious diseases and biodiversity. He was awarded a Knighthood in 1996, and appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia in 1998, both for “Services to Science”. In 2001 he was one of the first 15 Life Peers created by the “House of Lords Appointments Commission”. In 2002, The Queen appointed him to the Order of Merit (the fifth Australian in its 100-year history). Honours include: the Royal Swedish Academy’s Crafoord Prize (bioscience and ecology’s equivalent of a Nobel Prize); the Swiss-Italian Balzan Prize (for “seminal contributions to [understanding] biodiversity”); and the Japanese Blue Planet Prize (“for developing fundamental tools for ecological conservation planning”). He is a Foreign Member of the US National Academy of Sciences, an Overseas Fellow of the Australian Academy of Sciences, and an Honorary Fellow of various other Academies and Learned Societies. In 2007 he received the Royal Society’s Copley Medal, its oldest (1731) and most prestigious award, given annually for “outstanding achievements in research in any branch of science”.
DiscussionDiscussion with Barabasi and May
Dr Jennifer Chayes, Microsoft Research, USAThe mathematics of Web science: structure, dynamics and incentives
Jennifer Tour Chayes is Distinguished Scientist and Managing Director of Microsoft Research New England. Her research areas include phase transitions in discrete mathematics and computer science, structural and dynamical properties of self-engineered networks, and algorithmic game theory. She is the coauthor of over 100 scientific papers and the co-inventor of over 20 patents. Chayes serves on numerous institute boards, advisory committees and editorial boards, including the Turing Award Committee, the US National Committee on Mathematics, the Board of Trustees of the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute, and the Advisory Boards of the Center for Discrete Mathematics and the Janelia Farms Research Institute.
Chayes received her Ph.D. at Princeton, and held postdoctoral fellowships at Harvard and Cornell. She is the recipient of the NSF Postdoctoral Fellowship, the Sloan Fellowship, and the UCLA Distinguished Teaching Award. Chayes is a Fellow of the AAAS and the Fields Institute, and a National Associate of the National Academies.
Professor Jon Kleinberg, Cornell University, USAUnderstanding social and information networks
Jon Kleinberg is on the faculty of the Computer Science Department at Cornell University, where he holds the position of Tisch University Professor. His research focuses on issues at the interface of networks and information, with an emphasis on the social and information networks that underpin the Web and other on-line media. He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and serves on the Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) Advisory Committee of the U.S. National Science Foundation, and the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board (CSTB) of the U.S. National Research Council. He is the recipient of MacArthur, Packard, and Sloan Foundation Fellowships, as well as the Nevanlinna Prize, Katayanagi Prize, ACM-Infosys Foundation Award, and U.S. National Academy of Sciences Award for Initiatives in Research.
David Robertson, School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh, UKProgramming the social computer: using computational logic to specify webs of interaction
Dave Robertson is Head of the School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh. His current research is on formal methods for coordination and knowledge sharing in distributed, open systems using ubiquitous internet and mobile infrastructures - the long term goal being to develop theories, languages and tools that out-perform conventional software engineering approaches in these arenas. He was coordinator of the OpenKnowledge project (www.openk.org) and was a principal investigator on the Advanced Knowledge Technologies research consortium (www.aktors.org), which were major EU and UK projects in this area. His earlier work was primarily on program synthesis and on the high level specification of programs, where he built some of the earliest systems for automating the construction of large programs from domain-specific requirements. He has contributed to the methodology of the field by developing the use of "lightweight" formal methods - traditional formal methods made much simpler to use in an engineering context by tailoring them to a specific type of task. As an undergraduate he trained as a biologist and continues to prefer biology-related applications of his research, although methods from his group have also been applied to other areas such as astronomy, healthcare, simulation of consumer behaviour and emergency response.
Dr Anne-Marie Kermarrec, INRIA Bretagne-Atlantique, FranceTowards a decentralised and personalised Web
Anne-Marie Kermarrec is the head of the INRIA research group on large-scale distributed systems in Rennes, France. She is also the principal investigator of the ERC Starting Grant GOSSPLE (Towards a decentralized and personalized Web). Before joining INRIA in 2004, she was with Microsoft Research in Cambridge, UK, as a Researcher since March 2000. She graduated from the University of Rennes, France, in October 1996. She also spent one postdoctoral year (1996-1997) in the Computer Systems group of Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, working in the GLOBE project in collaboration with Maarten van Steen and Andrew S. Tanenbaum. She defended her “habilitation à diriger les recherches” (University of Rennes 1) in December 2002 on large-scale application-level multicast. Her research interests are in distributed systems, epidemic protocols, and peer-to-peer systems, and more recently, social networks, search, and recommendations systems, still in the P2P context.
Professor David Karger, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA Enhancing communication and creativity with structured data on the Web
David Karger (A.B. Harvard University 1989, Ph.D. Stanford University 1994) is a Professor of Computer Science at MIT and a member of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. He is a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery and a member of the scientific advisory board of the Web Science Research Institute. He received the 2003 National Academy of Science Award for Initiatives in Research.
Karger's work has spanned a wide variety of areas including Algorithms, Information Retrieval, Networking, Peer to Peer Systems, Machine Learning, Communication and Coding, Databases, and Human Computer Interaction. Karger's recent work has focused on developing tools that let individual users and groups gather, manage, visualize, and share information more effectively.
Professor Pierre Levy, University of Ottawa, CanadaThe nature of collective intelligence
Pierre Lévy is a philosopher who devoted his professional life to the understanding of the cultural and cognitive implications of the digital technologies, to promote their best social uses and to study the phenomenon of human collective intelligence. He has written a dozen of books on this subject that have been translated in more than 12 languages and are studied in many universities all over the world. He currently teaches at the communication department of the University of Ottawa (Canada), where he holds a Canada Research Chair in Collective Intelligence. Pierre Lévy is fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and received several awards and academic distinctions.
Professor Manuel Castells FBA, University of Southern California, USA Social networks in the internet: what social research knows about it
Manuel Castells is Professor of Sociology, and Director of the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute at the Open University of Catalonia (UOC), in Barcelona as well as University Professor and the Wallis Annenberg Chair Professor of Communication Technology and Society at the Annenberg School of Communication, University of Southern California, Los Angeles.
He has been a Visiting Professor in 17 universities around the world and invited lecturer at hundreds of academic and professional institutions in 45 countries. He has authored 23 books, including the trilogy "The Information Age: Economy, Society, and Culture", 1996-2003, published by Blackwell and translated in 23 languages. He has also co-authored and edited additional 22 books. He has received Honorary Doctorates from 15 universities in Europe, North America, Latin America, and Asia as well as several honorary professorships and university medals. He is a Fellow of the Spanish Royal Academy of Economics and Finance, a Fellow of the Academia Europea, and a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy.
Among other distinguished appointments he was a member of the United Nations Secretary General´s Advisory Board on Information Technology and Global Development, and a member of the United Nations Secretary General´s Advisory Panel on the Global Civil Society. He is also a trustee of the California Institute of the Arts. In 2005 he was appointed by the European Commission to be a founding member of the Scientific Council of the European Research Council. In 2008 he was appointed to the Governing Board of the new European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) created by the European Union to stimulate the research cooperation between universities, business and society.
Professor Helen Margetts, Oxford Internet Institute, UKNew models of government via the Web
Helen Margetts is Professor of Society and the Internet at the Oxford Internet Institute and a professorial fellow of Mansfield College, University of Oxford. She is a political scientist researching government and political behaviour in digital environments. Publications include: (with Patrick Dunleavy) Digital-era Governance: IT Corporations, E-government and the State (OUP, 2006); (with Christopher Hood) The Tools of Government in the Digital Age (Palgrave, 2007);(with Hood and Perri 6) Paradoxes of Modernization: Unintended Consequences of Public Policy Reform (OUP, 2010); and three major studies for the UK National Audit Office of Government on the Web (1999, 2002, 2007). Previously she has held posts at University College London as Director of the School of Public Policy, Birkbeck College and LSE and as a systems analyst in the private sector. She has a PhD in Government (LSE, 1996), an MSc in Politics (LSE, 1990) and a BSc in Mathematics (University of Bristol, 1983).
Professor Luis von Ahn, Carnegie Mellon University, USA Augmented intelligence: the Web and human computation
Professor Luis von Ahn works in the Computer Science Department at Carnegie Mellon University. His current research interests include encouraging people to do work for free, as well as catching and thwarting cheaters in online environments. He is the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, a Packard Fellowship, a Microsoft New Faculty Fellowship, and a Sloan Research Fellowship. He has been named one of the 50 Best Minds in Science by Discover Magazine, one of the 100 Most Creative People in Business of 2010 by Fast Company Magazine, one of the "Brilliant 10" scientists of 2006 by Popular Science Magazine, one of the 50 most influential people in technology by Silicon.com, and one of the Top Innovators in the Arts and Sciences by Smithsonian Magazine.
Professor Ramesh Jain, University of California, Irvine, USAThe EventWeb: towards experiential computing
Ramesh Jain is an educator, researcher, and entrepreneur. Currently he is a Donald Bren Professor in Information & Computer Sciences at University of California, Irvine. Earlier he served on faculty of Georgia Tech, University of California at San Diego, The university of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Wayne State University, and Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur. He is a Fellow of ACM, IEEE, AAAI, IAPR, and SPIE. His current research interests are in searching multimedia data and creating EventWebs for experiential computing.
Professor Noshir Contractor, Northwestern University and Web Science Trust, USADeveloping Web Science to understand and enable 21st century multidimensional networks
Noshir Contractor is the Jane S. & William J. White Professor of Behavioral Sciences in the McCormick School of Engineering & Applied Science, the School of Communication and the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, USA. He is the Director of the Science of Networks in Communities (SONIC) Research Group at Northwestern University and serves as a Program Director of the Web Science Trust. He is investigating factors that lead to the formation, maintenance, and dissolution of dynamically linked social and knowledge networks in a wide variety of contexts including communities of practice in business, translational science and engineering communities, public health networks and virtual worlds. His research program has been funded continuously for the past 15 years by major grants from the U.S. National Science Foundation with additional current funding from the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), Air Force Research Lab, Army Research Institute, Army Research Laboratory and the MacArthur Foundation.
His book titled Theories of Communication Networks (co-authored with Professor Peter Monge and published by Oxford University Press, and translated into simplified Chinese in 2009) received the 2003 Book of the Year award from the Organizational Communication Division of the National Communication Association. He is the lead developer of C-IKNOW (Cyberinfrastructure for Inquiring Knowledge Networks On the Web), a socio-technical environment to understand and enable networks among communities, as well as Blanche, a software environment to simulate the dynamics of social networks.
Professor Jonathan Zittrain, Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Harvard University, USAWill the Web break?
Jonathan Zittrain is Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, co-founder of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, and Professor of Computer Science in the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Internet Society and is on the board of advisors for Scientific American. Previously he was Professor of Internet Governance and Regulation at Oxford University.
His research interests include battles for control of digital property and content, cryptography, electronic privacy, the roles of intermediaries within Internet architecture, and the useful and unobtrusive deployment of technology in education.
He performed the first large-scale tests of Internet filtering in China and Saudi Arabia in 2002, and now as part of the OpenNet Initiative he has co-edited a study of Internet filtering by national governments, "Access Denied: The Practice and Policy of Global Internet Filtering," and its sequel, “Access Controlled: The Shaping of Power, Rights, and Rule in Cyberspace.”
His book The Future of the Internet -- And How to Stop It is available from Yale University Press and Penguin UK -- and under a Creative Commons license. Papers may be found at http://www.jz.org .
Sir Timothy Berners-Lee OM, KBE, FRS, FREng, Web Science Trust, USA Future hopes for the Web
A graduate of Oxford University, Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web, an internet-based hypermedia initiative for global information sharing in 1989 while at CERN, the European Particle Physics Laboratory. He wrote the first web client and server in 1990 and later the specifications for URIs, HTTP and HTML.
He is the 3Com Founders Professor of Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) where he also heads the Decentralized Information Group (DIG). He is a Professor in the Electronics and Computer Science Department at the University of Southampton, UK.
He is the Director of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), a Web standards organization which develops interoperable technologies to lead the Web to its full potential. He is a founding Director of the Web Science Trust (WST) which was created to promote research and education in Web Science and a Director of the World Wide Web Foundation which was created to advance the Web to empower people.
In 2001 he became a Fellow of the Royal Society. In 2004 he was knighted by H.M. Queen Elizabeth and in 2007 he was awarded the Order of Merit. He is the author of "Weaving the Web".
Café Scientifique 20 May
Industry networking event 21 May
Enter your email address to receive updates about scientific meetings at the Royal Society
Full listing of our events and exhibitions.
Watch videos of past events.
Most of our talks are free and open to the public.
We host major conferences for leading scientists.
Explore our annual science exhibition
Contact the events team.