WOW17: Workshop on Web Observatories, Social Machines and Decentralisation

A workshop at WWW2017, Perth, Australia - April 3rd, 2017

Building upon the series of International "Web Observatories Workshops" (2013-2014) and the "Workshop on the Theory and Practice of Social Machines" (2013-2016), This workshop brings together participants associated with Web Observatory topics including: data sharing, re-use of data and applications; study of social machines; decentralisation of Web infrastructure and services; and emerging research challenges when these are combined with the Internet of Things (IoT).

This full-day workshop explores the challenges of interoperability and distributed analytics across the growing number of Web services, Web Observatories, and most recently, IoT devices. We will also discuss the pressing issues around the decentralisation of Web infrastructure and social machines, with a specific focus on the decentralisation of scholarly communications.


The goal of the workshop is to further advance the major research themes andpertaining to the development of Web Observatories, and explore the ongoing research challenges, which include architectures for distributed storage, protocols for (meta)data discovery, distributed querying, and analytics on large-scale Web data. For WOW17, this year's workshop includes two additional areas of research. Firstly, we will focus on the opportunities and challenges due to the emergence of IoT devices and datasets available via the Web, and how this will be integrated into the Web Observatory.

Secondly, we will focus on decentralisation, in particular for the development of architecture and interactions of digital scholarly communications as a social machine. It is critical that scholarly communication and knowledge dissemination are not controlled by overpowered or centralised actors. The academic publishing ecosystem should be considered an ongoing conversation between experts, policy makers, implementers, and the general public. The Web is increasingly being used to enable fair access to scholarly work, but bringing this to its full potential requires understanding of, and change in, a number of interrelated areas. Platforms for authoring and publishing research are only one part of a bigger picture, which also includes feedback and commentary, reputation and impact, searching and linking across projects and domains, and long-term archival of work. This part of the workshop intends to bring together practitioners and researchers from a variety of different backgrounds in order to articulate requirements and discuss interoperability of smaller, more domain-specific solutions.


The timing of this workshop coincides with a surge of interest around platforms, architecture and methods for data sharing and knowledge creation in emerging Internet of Things (IoT) on the Web. The data generated by these networks is well structured in contrast to the Web data (documents, tweets etc.). The emergence of the Internet of Things adds new challenges in this space, these include technical issues like volume and velocity of real-time streams of sensors, ethical concerns about privacy, access control and support for large-scale analytical queries and applications.

Web Observatories can support communities to interact, observe and share analysis over the Web and inspire more comprehensive solutions for these challenges. For example, for chronic disease management, trusted information retrieval of online medical resources, online interventions and building trusted online communities are critical challenges. Web Observatories enabled with data provenance, access control, risk assessment methods can facilitate multidisciplinary analysis across geographic boundaries.

Core to these challenges is understanding the requirements for observatories across different user groups, and orchestrating communication and interaction between business and scientific communities engaging in Web Observatory research. Questions need to be asked as to how we shall discover, acquire, construct and curate varied datasets in a way that is suitable for cross-platform use. Similarly, the discovery, construction and use of analytic and visualisation tools across platforms and disciplines presents significant challenges.

The workshop in the past has provided a platform for discussions which led to development of meta-data standards and search tools for the Web Observatories. These tools support researchers who engage with the global network of Web Observatories. Similarly, we aim for discussions to position Web Observatories as a global infrastructure to facilitate research studies related to the Web.

We also draw inspiration from the ongoing debate about the production of scholarly articles. We wish to explore how academic researchers can leverage the Web as a technical platform for academic publishing, using existing Web technologies and standards, as well as take advantage of contemporary cultural norms around interacting, sharing and linking through social media. Despite the potential of the Web for greater control over publishing formats and reach to wider (non-academic) audiences, paper-based constraints, and dependencies on centralised third-parties for demonstrating academic impact remain.


The workshop proposes a multidisciplinary discussion focused on the following three themes, including:

  • Architecture, Infrastructure, and models for Web Observatories and their data:
    • Best practises for deploying and managing Web Observatories
    • Functional aspects of Web Observatories - interoperability and standardisation challenges for datasets and analytics.
    • Sharing and re-use of datasets between applications in the Web Observatory.
    • Provenance and trust in Web Observatories.

  • Designing social machine observatories: analyses of the design of effective (extant and future) social machines, including:
    • Discovering and using dynamic real-time streams of sensors and devices.
    • Use of metadata for interoperability, access control and data sharing.
    • Re-use and sharing of intermediate IoT data analyses.
    • Impact of IoT devices as intermediaries in interactions on the Web.

  • Challenges for observing "Internet of Things" through the Web
    • Reports, Presentations, Experiences and Tools from implementing and deploying Web and IoT Observatories
    • Key challenges around mobilising existing datasets to be available through discovering, and catalouging datasets on the Web and via IoT devices.

  • Decentralisation: development of architectures and interactions for digital scholarly publishing as a social machine
    • Architecture and Decentralisation: Identifiers and versioning; Provenance and accountability; Persistence and permanence; Personal data stores; Information management.
    • Interfaces and Interactions: Authoring and collaboration; Web-based presentation of research; Data and metadata integration; Citation management, analysis, generation and prediction; Integration of semantics in prose and datasets; Adaptation to audiences and contexts; Search and query of research objects and social interactions; Domain-specific publishing challenges.
    • Create, Reuse, Remix, and Share: Social Web paradigms applied to scholarly communication; Social and cultural aspects of academic publishing; Profiles, identity, attribution; Rights and licensing; Feedback and reviews; Connecting scholarly data with other data; Incentives and altmetrics; Human and machine-readability.

  • Enhancing user-engagement and user-awareness on Web Observatories.

  • Correlation between the Web Observatory resources and Knowledge Data Discovery process.

Workshop format

WOW2017 will be a full-day workshop, which will facilitate young researchers to present and discuss their work with distinguished researchers in the field. It will also debate over future challenges and emerging sub-disciplines of research on the Web through an invited talk by a distinguished researcher. The organisers plan to organise a panel discussion on the challenges for the Web with emergence of IoT. The workshop will have presentations from the authors of accepted papers. Each presentation is expected to be 20-minutes followed by 5 minutes of questions and discussions. Accepted papers will be in ACM format and up to 6 pages in length. We expect to accept up to 8 papers.


We welcome paper submissions (regular research papers or position papers) pertaining to the themes listed above. To encourage papers to be kept short, the page limit is 6 pages in ACM SIG template (as per the WWW2017 research track). At least one author of each paper is expected to register for the workshop and attend to present the paper.

The submissions will be evaluated based on their novelty, coherence and relevance to workshop themes and topics. The workshop welcomes interdisciplinary studies and especially encourages research studies that reflect on IoT related challenges observed through the Web.

Please submit your paper to WOW2017 on EasyChair.

The accepted submissions will be published as a companion volume for the WWW conference proceedings. We also support the publication of the papers in an open access, web-friendly format on the workshop page (as RDFa annotated HTML), if the authors wish to opt out of the ACM proceedings.

Web-friendly proceedings

We also support the publication of the papers in an open access, web-friendly format on the workshop page (as RDFa annotated HTML), if the authors wish to opt out of the ACM proceedings.

We strongly promote self-dogfooding, and so encourage authors to demonstrate that they use their tooling or techniques in their own practice. We also promote decentralisation and data ownership, and encourage participants to submit their contribution by publishing a document at a domain they control or have sufficient authority on the URL, e.g., personal site at an university, and sending us the URL. Reviews will be based on a persistent copy e.g., from an snapshot of the article.

Important dates

22nd Jan 2017 (23:59 AWST - Australian Western Standard Time)Paper submission deadline
31st January 2017Acceptance notifications
14th February 2017Camera ready version deadline
TBAWorkshop day

Programme (TBD)

The tentative schedule looks as follows:

  • 10:00 - 10:15. Welcome (Organisers)

  • 10:15 - 11:00. Keynote

  • 11:00 - 11:15. Coffee break

  • 11:15 - 12:45. Research paper presentations

  • 12:45 - 13:30. Lunch break

  • 13:30 - 15:00. Research paper presentations (contd.)

  • 15:00 - 15:15. Coffee break

  • 15:15 - 16:00. Panel Discussion

  • 16:00 - 16:30. Conclusions and wrap-up

Keynote Speaker (to be announced)


Workshop chairs are:
  • Professor David Charles De Roure (University of Oxford, UK) PhD FBCS MIMA CITP is a Professor of e-Research at University of Oxford and Director of the Oxford e-Research Centre. Focused on advancing digital scholarship, David works closely with multiple disciplines including social sciences (studying social machines), digital humanities (computational musicology), creative industries (semantic audio), astrophysics (Square Kilometre Array radio telescope and citizen science), and computer science (large scale distributed systems and social computing). He has strategic responsibility for Digital Humanities at Oxford. He was closely involved in the UK e-Science programme and held a national role from 2009-2013 as the UK National Strategic Director for Digital Social Research for the Economic and Social Science Research Council, for whom he is now a strategic adviser for social media research data. He is also a supernumerary Fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford.
  • Professor Dame Wendy Hall (University of Southampton, UK) DBE, FRS, FREng is a Professor of Computer Science at the University of Southampton, UK, and was Dean of the Faculty of Physical Science and Engineering from 2010 to 2014. She was Head of the School of Electronics and Computer Science (ECS) from 2002 to 2007. One of the first computer scientists to undertake serious research in multimedia and hypermedia, she has been at its forefront ever since. The influence of her work has been significant in many areas including digital libraries, the development of the Semantic Web, and the emerging research discipline of Web Science. She is now Executive Director of the Web Science Institute at Southampton. She was President of the ACM from 2008-2010, a member of the UK Prime Minister's Council for Science and Technology from 2004-2010 and a founding member of the Scientific Council of the European Research Council. She is currently a member of the Global Commission on Internet Governance and the World Economic Forum's Global Council on AI and Robotics. She holds many fellowships including Fellow of the Royal Society, Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and Fellow of the ACM.
Workshop organizers are:
  • Dr. Ramine Tinati (University of Southampton, UK) is a Senior Research Fellow in the Web and Internet Science group. He works on the EPSRC funded project, SOCIAM, which involves developing methods and analytics to understand the development and connectivity of the Web. Ramine is works on real-time big data stream processing and querying. Ramine holds a PhD and M.Sc. in Web Science and a B.Sc.(Hons) in Computer Science from the University of Southampton, UK.
  • Dr. Aastha Madaan (University of Southampton, UK)is a Research Fellow in the Web and Internet Science group. She works on the EPSRC funded PETRAS project, IoT Observatory. Her research involves developing access control model for sharing IoT datasets on the Web. She also worked on developing patterns for creating and re-using analytics on the Web Observatory. She has a PhD in Computer Science from the University of Aizu, Fukushima, Japan and M.Sc., B.Sc. (Hons) in Computer Science from the University of Delhi, India.
  • Dr. Dominic DiFranzo (University of Southampton, UK) is a Research Fellow with the Web and Internet Science Group at the University of Southampton in the UK. He currently works in the EPSRC funded project, SOCIAM, which involves researching the nature and development of social machines. His research involves collaborating with colleagues across the social sciences and humanities to translate the tools and methods from data science, e-science and informatics to address their research needs and purposes. This includes working with a wide array of research groups and projects including large-scale social network analysis, experimental ethnography, open government data, and web observatories. He holds a PhD in Computer Science from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and was a member of the Tetherless World Constellation.
  • Dr. Wolfgang Mayer (University of South Australia, Australia) is a Senior Lecturer working on applying knowledge representation and reasoning techniques to problems related to data management and integration, systems interoperability, intelligent product and process configuration, diagnosis and fault localisation. He has a PhD in Computer Science from University of South Australia and a MS from Vienna University of Technology.
  • Sarven Capadisli: a PhD student researching statistical linked dataspaces, Linked Research, and dokieli. He is a co-chair of the SemStats workshop series at ISWC since 2013; recently co-chaired the tutorial for Building Decentralized Social Web Applications at WWW2016. His advocacy to establish Webby research contributed towards a shift in conferences accepting "paper" contributions in native Web formats.
  • Amy Guy: a PhD student researching decentralised Social Web technologies and standards. She co-chaired the tutorial for Building Decentralized Social Web Applications at WWW2016; and has regularly convened meetings of the OKF Scotland, and related hackathons and workshops. She publishers her research papers and thesis on her website, and invites input through open standard protocols for decentralised communication.

Programme Committee


Supported by

The workshop is supported by the SOCIAM: The Theory and Practice of Social Machines project.


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