It has taken me a shameful amount of time to sit down and write up my time at WebSci'13. I shall not pontificate upon why this is, except to remark that my day job's been pretty busy, plus I wanted to focus on blogging specific things I did (the talk I gave, the CHI SIGs I was involved in) before getting to this.
This post is the first of two, in which I talk about my experience at WebSci'13. If you prefer something more succinct (and paper recommendations!) please skip to the second post.
WebSci'13 kicked off with the workshops day on Wednesday. I enjoyed a lively workshop (with the rare opportunity to wave hello to Dave De Roure!) on building web observatories; there were some nice talks here, and the papers can be found at the workshop website. Those of you interested in building web observatories, or just being in touch with the community, should check out the W3C community group.
The second half of day one was, for me, the WebSci/InternetSci synergies workshop. As regular readers will know, I care about how we go about Web Science, and have done some work on how we define/measure WebSci. I was interested to learn more Internet Science and its relationship with WebSci. There were some interesting discussions, including whether one can frame WebSci as a subset of InternetSci, or vice versa. I must admit I walked away concerned about the threat of yet more debates about terminology (and very technical terminology at that) excluding and disenfranchising non-techies in the community. I don't clearly see the advantage of distinguishing between WebSci and InternetSci at the moment; perhaps with further discussions I shall.
I was, I would add, sad about not being able to be in two places at once: during the morning the workshop on social theory in WebSci was running, and in the afternoon I was not attending the classic (not to mention important!) Web Science Education workshop. Sad times.
Thursday: two keynotes, time at CHI, and pecha kuchas in action
The conference proper kicked off with a (cross-conference) Vint Cerf keynote on the Thursday morning. After this I slipped out of WebSci to CHI, to run the SIG on Interdisciplinary work (see previous posts). I went there via CHI Interactivity, which was as fun as ever :) I rejoined the WebSci stream that Thursday afternoon, starting off with a brilliant Pecha Kucha session. This was 11 quick-fire 7-minute talks delivered in the pecha kucha format: I'd not seen this done in the context of a full conference program before, but as has been observed elsewhere, it worked really well. And there was some fab content.
The end of the day brought Cory Doctorow's keynote, a compelling, articulate and often humourous rant about DRM. I'd had no idea until Mark Bernstein introduced him that Cory Doctorow had published with Eastgate -- awesome! This keynote was certainly a highlight of the conference.
Friday: presenting and chairing
I worked hard on the Friday of the conference: I was the first person up to present a paper after the opening panel that morning. I was talking about the work I did with colleagues at DERI to understand disciplinary representation in WebSci publications (see previous posts). I got some great questions and feedback afterwards -- lucky me!
I was then chairing the next session, entitled Competition, which had some great talks. The program ended that day with the famed WebSci poster session, well-known for being of consistently excellent quality. My time in the session was sadly limited: I arrived late having found myself in a lengthy (and good!) conversation about Health Web Science, and on top of that I had to duck out early for a conference call that ran into the panel that closed the day. (Yep, the day job doesn't go away when at these events!) Still, what I was saw great, and the posters short-listed for the best poster award were deservedly so.
Saturday: a brief visit with an excellent presentation
Events continued on Saturday. Unfortunately I had to duck out before the close, but undoubtedly my favourite paper that I saw that day was delivered by Stéphane Bazan, on the WebSci curriculum at USJ-Beirut, a rare and valuable example of a Web Science programme that is not based on Computer Science, but in this case on Economics. Great material and well presented :)