Web Science – or how difficult it is to get multidisciplinary studies of the Web
Recently I had the “pleasure” to attend the first Web Science Conference WebSci’09: Society On-Line in Athens, Greece, where I presented a poster entitled
together with Sandra Gonzalez-Bailon from the Oxford Internet Institute.
Web Science stands for a new interdisciplinary field whose goals are understand what the Web is, engineer its future and ensure its social benefit. To advance towards this direction the Web Science Conference aims at bringing both computer scientists and social scientists together. And it does succeed in that, but it fails in its principal approach – to receive papers which incorporate more than just one of these disciplines. I could find hardly any multidisciplinary study in this sense. Most papers and posters just fell under the category “I do what I always did but I call it now web science”.
Of course one can argue that this was only the first time the conference was celebrated (it had some predecessor as workshop though) and people will first get to know each other, but I was still quite disappointed with the lack of multidisciplinary papers. It was also awesome to see papers presented, which where mere reviews of the area and did not show any new insight nor justify the scope of the conference. Another astonishing effect, which I leave as a side note, was the very high absence rate of both speakers and posters apparently caused by lack of funding due to the recent economical crisis.
In conclusion, I guess there is still quite a large way to go and some more conferences to come until we will be able to celebrate the birth of a real web science with truly multidisciplinary papers.