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The University of Southampton
Web Science Institute

WebSci’20: A Human-Centric CDT perspective

Published: 16 July 2020

Worldwide circumstances put a stop to this year’s ACM Web Science conference as a face-to-face event. Thanks to considerable efforts by the conference organisers, WebSci’20 moved online, hosted by the Web Science Institute at the University of Southampton. This year’s conference theme was “Making the Web Human-Centric? New Directions in the Web and AI”. Speaking at the Spotlight Founders Panel discussion, Professor Sir Nigel Shadbolt pointed out a key element of the development of Web Science as a discipline: the steady pipeline of PhD students. Progressing from doctoral researchers towards becoming truly interdisciplinary Web Science professionals in influential posts worldwide, their impact and contribution is becoming increasingly apparent.

By way of illustration, Southampton's Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) students and alumni contributed to the academic programme, the operational management and communications for WebSci'20. To name a few, CDT alumni Faranak Hardcastle and Samantha Kanza respectively co-ordinated workshops on 'The Secret Life of Immortal Data' and 'How to use AI for Good?', including a session on 'Data Ethics for AI' by Jacqui Ayling. Current student, Maria Priestley, led the 'Evolutionary Thinking for the Web' workshop. At the 'Personalisation and Community' workshop, alumnus, Roushdat Elaheebocus gave a presentation about Behaviour Coach, a framework for developing mobile applications to encourage healthy behaviour changes. Sarah Hewitt presented her research about the reception of UK education reforms within teachers' blogs at the 'NLP + CSS' Paper Session, chaired by fellow alumna Clare Walsh, who also co-ordinated the conference’s online social programme. Mark Weal, CDT Director, co-chaired the PhD Symposium where Southampton students Allison Noble, Steve Anning and Michele Zadra discussed their latest research.

Behind the scenes, former students Manuel Leon Urrutia, Tim O'Riordan and Ian Brown managed technical and operational activities alongside current students Ian Coombs, Justyna Lisinska and Chira Tochia, with Simon Jonsson co-ordinating the website. Throughout the conference a team of volunteer bloggers covered all the main sessions.

If you missed WebSci'20 or would like an overview of any sessions, check out the blogs below:


Spotlight Discussion Panels and Talks


Paper Sessions

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