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The University of Southampton
Web Science Institute

WebSci'20 launches virtually!

Published: 6 July 2020

COVID-19 pandemic lockdown meant plans to hold the international ACM Web Science Conference 2020 (#WebSci20) physically at the University of Southampton were in tatters.

The WSI however, was determined not to postpone the conference and pulled out all the stops to transform it into a virtual event. The hard work and ‘can-do’ attitude of everyone involved has paid off, as we embark of a week long series of exciting events and workshops, featuring the world’s leading technology researchers, companies, policy makers and ‘movers and shakers’ of Web Science.

Chaired by WSI Executive Director Professor Dame Wendy Hall, 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. 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 led 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."

As well as challenges, many benefits have also come to light.

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.”

The team believes that this is the way forward for future conferences – a strong mixture of physical and virtual attendance.

Find out more at @WebSciConf and

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