Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton

Making the Web Human-Centric? New Directions in the Web and AI

Published: 7 July 2020
Web Science Institute

Before the recent COVID-19 pandemic lockdown in the UK, plans were underway for the University of Southampton to host the prestigious international ACM Web Science Conference 2020 (#WebSci20) on the University’s Highfield Campus.

When that became impossible, the hosts - Southampton’s Web Science Institute - pulled out all of the stops to transform the physical ACM Web Science Conference 2020 event (held in Boston, USA, last year) into a virtual conference with an exciting, packed programme featuring the world’s leading technology researchers, companies, policy makers and ‘movers and shakers’ of Web Science. The WSI team believes this is the way forward for future conferences – a strong mixture of physical and virtual attendance.

Chaired by WSI Executive Director Professor Dame Wendy Hall, Regius Professor of Computer Science at Southampton, the conference will focus on new directions in the Web and artificial intelligence (AI) and will feature keynote speakers, presentations of new research, panel debates and a PhD symposium.

Following a two days of preliminary symposia and workshops, the main conference is formally opened on Wednesday, 8 July, by ACM President, Gabriele Kotsis  followed by Dame Wendy ‘In Conversation’ with University of Southampton’s Chancellor, Ruby Wax, at 10.00am (BST).

Dame Wendy said: “At the WSI, we are at the forefront of global Web Science. This is our field of expertise, so we thought, if anyone could transform a physical conference into a virtual one, it should be us.”

Susan Davies, Coordination Manager of the WSI, who leads the organisation team, said: “We faced a number of challenges including getting the technology infrastructure in place. We also had to plan the programme to accommodate different time zones so that we could maximise access to people from around the world.

Professor Pauline Leonard, WSI Director, added: “We have been able to attract an even more exciting programme of speakers as people haven’t had to book so much time out of their diaries to travel. We've also reduced registration costs dramatically as our overheads have reduced.”

Further highlights of #WebSci20 include:

  • a special public panel discussion broadcast by the Digital Planet programme on the BBC World Service on Tuesday, 7 July at 20.30pm (BST). Chaired by Bill Thompson, the stellar panel of Dame Wendy, Vint Cerf, Carly Kind and JP Rangaswami will address the question, “What is Web Science and why does it matter?”;
  • keynotes by Professor James Hendler on the future of the web (9 July) and JP Rangaswami on the role of Web Science in the age of COVID-19 (10 July);
  • Spotlight Panel on 9 July discussing the Research Roadmap for Web Science, chaired by Steffen Staab, Professor of Analytic Computing at the Universität Stuttgart, and Professor of Web and Computer Science at the University of Southampton with Noshir Contractor, Fabien GandonProfessor Bettina Berendt and Carolyn Nguyen;

The registration fee to access all of these sessions – and more – is just £50. Register here online.  


Privacy Settings