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Web Observatories for Discovery Informatics

July 18, 2012 | Redmond, Washington, United States

The web operates at a very large scale and is dominated by emergent phenomena with radical innovations coming from and driven by its users, and in time scales that are radically faster than earlier computer-based systems have exhibited. We are just beginning to understand how to conduct scientific research on such a huge, constantly changing artificial system—the web and all the people and systems that use it. Scientific method begins with instrumentation and measurement to describe and characterize what is actually happening. Only then can we begin to develop theories and abstractions that enable better design of future evolutions of the systems and quantitative predictions of their behavior. Currently, data collection about web system behaviors is ad hoc, post hoc, and opportunistic, and is all too often proprietary and closely held, whereas the Semantic Web offers radically new paradigms for data publication and sharing.

Many challenges must be addressed in the areas of information sciences, intelligent systems, and human-computer interaction. Data modeling and integration still require large investments of scientists’ time and effort. Better interfaces for collaboration, visualization, and data and models understanding would significantly improve data consumption. At the same time, recent research in information and intelligent systems, as well as social computing, is showing promise to help redesign data gathering and understanding.

Workshop Focus

In this workshop, we looked at the emerging fields of web science and discovery informatics to explore how to build web observatories where data and models can be produced, consumed, and studied.

  • Web science embraces the study of the web as a vast information network of people and communities. It also includes the study of people and communities by using the digital records of user activity mediated by the web. An understanding of human behavior and social interaction can contribute to our understanding of the web, and data obtained from the web can contribute to our understanding of human behavior and social interaction. Accordingly, web science involves analysis and design of web architecture and applications, as well as studies of the people, organizations, and policies that shape and are shaped by the web.
  • Discovery informatics is emerging as a three-area discipline with themes around computational support of discovery processes (such as knowledge bases, provenance standards, and visualizations), the study of the interplay between data and models (such as tradeoff between expressiveness and scalability), and the use of social computing for discovery (such as management of human contributions).

Workshop Agenda

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Event Location
7:00 P.M. Dinner at Palomino Restaurant

610 Bellevue Way NE

Bellevue, WA 98004
Tel: (425) 455-7600


Wednesday, July 18, 2012   


Event/Topic  Location 
9:00 A.M.  Opening and workshop goalsWendy Hall and Evelyne Viegas

Rainier Room,

Microsoft Conference Center (Building 33) 

10:30 A.M. 

The Development of Web ScienceWendy Hall | slides

Open DataNigel Shadbolt | slides

Linked Data and Linked-DataJim Hendler | slides

Web ObservatoriesDavid de Roure | slides

Can Big Data Motivate New Theories and Methods?Noshir Contractor | slides

12:00 P.M.  Lunch
1:00 P.M. Breakout sessions
2:30 P.M.  Reports
3:30 P.M.  Next steps
4:00 P.M.  End