What is Web Science?

The new field of Web Science positions the World Wide Web as an object of scientific study unto itself. Web Science recognizes the Web as a transformational, disruptive technology, and its practitioners focus on understanding it and its components, its facets and its characteristics. In one early talk Tim Berners-Lee characterized the Web Science Method as “the process of designing things in a very large space.

Web scientists at pioneering research centers including the Tetherless World Constellation (TWC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (USA), the Web Science Doctoral Training Centre at the University of Southampton (UK) and the Decentralized Information Group at MIT (USA) search for answers to questions like:

  • What processes have driven the Web’s growth, and will they persist?
  • How does large-scale structure emerge from a simple set of protocols?
  • How does the Web work as a socio-technical system?
  • What drives the viral uptake of certain Web phenomena?
  • What might fragment the Web?

For more information, check out presentations and videos from the Royal Society’s two-day discussion event Web Science: a new frontier (September 2010).

The web site of the Web Science Trust is also a great source of information and links to upcoming events in the web science community.

slide-image-2Web Science 2016, The 8th International ACM Web Science Conference 2016 was held from May 22 to May 25, 2016 in Hannover, Germany, organized by L3S Research Center. 

WebSci13 Web Science 2013, the fifth annual gathering of the web science research community, was held in Paris (FR) May 2013.

WebSci12Web Science 2012, the fourth annual gathering of the web science research community, was held in Evanston, IL (USA) 22-24 June 2012.

Web Science 2011, the third annual gathering of the web science research community, was held in Koblenz, Germany 15-17 June 2011.
The Web Science Research Center at RPI is a founding member of the Web Science Network of Laboratories (WSTNet) recently established by the Web Science Trust. The center is part of a global alliance with the other nine founding members:

The Web Science Research Center at RPI is affiliated with the Tetherless World Constellation a leader in Semantic Web and Web Science research and technologies.

John S. Erickson, Ph.D. of Bitwacker Associates and the Tetherless World Constellation at RPI was an invited project facilitator at the 2009 Web Science Summer Research Week, hosted by TWC. In the photo to the left John enjoys student presentations with Nigel Shadbolt (center) and Jim Hendler (right), both Directors and Trustees of the Web Science Trust.


  1. Update: See the new video from WebSci11, “Why Study WebSci” http://vimeo.com/25226669 (June 2011)

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