Web Science 2013 Workshop: Building Web Observatories

****Papers and Presentations Available****


In an age of "big data" it is no longer a concern to get access to data per se but rather to find the relevant data in a vast ocean of keyword search results. As the store of data grows inexorably our focus inevitably moves from an unsorted Web of documents to a collated, curated and contextualised Web of data. Web Observatories are providing unique opportunities to bring together datasets and analytic tools by actively engaging with research communities. There are significant challenges in deploying Web Observatories that need to be discussed. At the same time, performing analytics on a global scale across interoperable Web Observatories holds the promise of further insights and value to the academia, business and society.

Background and Goals

This workshop will examine the key aims and features of interlinking existing and emergent Web Observatories which can provide a global network of heterogeneous data repositories each acting like a virtual telescope, observing and analysing the activity on the Web across a range of topics (perspectives) over time. With the extension of the Web into virtually every aspect of society from commerce to leisure to government to social interaction it has become apparent not only that the Web offers a new opportunity to study human interactions but that the action/nature of the Web itself aspects these human interactions and must be studied in its own right. Web observatories will be providing vital tools for observing the complex interactions and correlations across different locations, topics and systems in an attempt to support research into the socio-technical interactions between human beings and the Web.

Thus key goals for this workshop are:

  1. Discussion to build consensus on the functional aspects of Web Observatories.

  2. Reports, Presentations, Experiences and Tools from those colleagues building observatories to inform best practice.

  3. Discussion on the key issues around mobilising existing datasets to be available through discoverable catalogs.

  4. Proposals for key datasets (partnerships) to be included in a Web Science observatory.

  5. Providing a forum for collaboration and follow-up to address interoperability challenges.

Topics and Discussions

This workshop aims to bring together researchers involved in building Web Observatories to discuss opportunities, challenges and best practices, as well as guidelines for Web Observatory interoperability. Discussion will involve the following topics:

    • The functional aspects of Web observatories; analytics and visualisation

    • .Best practice on deploying and managing Web observatories

    • .Harvesting, cataloguing and discovering datasets on the Web

    • .Interoperability of datasets and analytic methods and tools

    Topics may also include but are not limited to:

    • .The functional problem (taxonomy) of an observatory
      • Are there substantive differences between the study of data generated by the Web and data residing on the Web?

    • Designing and implementing experiments on Web observatories to explore societal, business or policy issues in terms of:
      • Post-situation analysis
      • Pre-situation detection and prediction
      • Synthetic/Hybrid data problems

    • Interoperability services for Web observatories
      • Discovering relevant Web observatories
      • Challenges around mapping data taxonomies (ontologies) across heterogeneous platform

    • .Challenges around correlating datasets

    • .Challenges around synthetic datasets and modelling of future behaviours on the Web

    • .Challenges around visualising and making sense of huge and heterogeneous datasets

    • .Challenges around matters of provenance and trust

    • .Curation and commentary to enrich datasets for Web observatories
      • Ensuring the persistence of experimental data for later checking/reproduction and in combination with new data for extended research

    • Legal and licensing challenges around the use and reuse of data beyond the original grant of usage.

    Workshop Format

    Position papers in the following areas are invited:

    • Building Web Observatories; functional aspects, architectures and best practices

    • Linking Web Observatories; interoperability challenges and guidelines

    Position papers need to be 2-3 pages long in LNCS format and they can be submitted at  BWebObs13 on EasyChair

    All accepted position papers will be included in the online proceedings.

    Authors of selected papers will be invited to give a 10 minute presentation and sit on a panel; there will be two panels, one for each of the above areas.

    Accepted Papers


    This is a half-day workshop. The following provides an out-line of the programme:

    • 0945 (Coffee break at 1030) Presentations and Panel: Building Web Observatories [Functional aspects, architectures and best practices] Chair: Dame Prof. Wendy Hall
    1. Building a Multimedia Web Observatory Platform
    2. Social and Semantic Driven Web Harvesting
    3. The Southampton University Web Observatory
    4. Trajectories through Social Machines
    • 1115 Presentations and Panel: Linking Web Observatories [Interoperability challenges and guidelines] Chair: Prof. Dave de Roure
    1. Building Semantically-Enriched Web Observatories
    2. Interoperability of Social Media Observatories
    3. Some Considerations for a Web Observatory
    4. Observing Observatories: Web Observatories should use Linked Data
    • 1215 Closing Discussion
    • 1230 Close


    The principal organizers of the workshop are as follows:

    • Wendy Hall, University of Southampton, UK

    • David de Roure, University of Oxford, UK

    • Thanassis Tiropanis, University of Southampton, UK

    • Ramine Tinati, University of Southampton, UK

    Programme Committee

    • (Chair) Wendy Hall, University of Southampton, UK
    • (Chair) David De Roure, University of Oxford, UK
    • Ramine Tinati, University of Southampton, UK
    • Thanassis Tiropanis, University of Southampton, UK
    • Noshir Contractor, Northwestern University, US
    • Wolfgang Negdl, L3S and University of Hannover, Germany

    Key Dates

    Paper submission deadline: 20 March 2013 23.59 CET 25 March 2013 23.59 CET

    Acceptance notifications: 27 March 2013

    Camera-ready version due: 3 April 2013


    We invite short / position papers (2-4 pages). Please produce your paper using the LNCS format and submit to BWebObs13 on EasyChair by 20st March 2013, 00:00 PST.


    The workshop proceedings will be published on EPrints and on the WSTnet Web Observatory website http://webscience.org/web-observatory/


    For more information, questions or comments, please contact tt2 OR rt506 (at) ecs.soton.ac.uk 

    Additional Information

    1st International workshop on Building Web Observatories

    Paris, 1 May 2013


    co-located with the ACM Web Science Conference 2013