Many of the most well known internet platforms and apps such as Facebook, Wikipedia, Reddit, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, Tumblr, etc. are fundamentally dependent on user generated content. Without it, they have nothing to offer to attract or retain users. On the face of it, this would suggest that the balance of power between the companies running the platforms/apps and the users should skew towards the users.
The 2015 ACM Web Science conference WebSci’15 is being held at the Oxford e-Research Centre and Keble College, Oxford, with an excellent programme of over 60 papers and posters, alongside seven exciting Web Science workshops, plus keynotes, panels and Late Breaking Research. The conference runs from Sunday 28 June to Wednesday 1 July, and is the seventh in the conference series organised by the Web Science Trust.
Web Science is the emergent study of the people and technologies, applications, processes and practices that shape and are shaped by the World Wide Web. Web Science aims to draw together theories, methods and findings from across academic disciplines, and to collaborate with industry, business, government and civil society, to develop our knowledge and understanding of the Web: the largest socio-technical infrastructure in human history. This year’s paper sessions are themed around Politics & Culture, Data Challenges, Online Social Behaviour, Innovating Methods, Ethics, Digital Narratives, and Social Safety and Wellbeing.
CaSMa participated in this conference with two ‘Late Breaking Research’ presentations:
- ‘A tailored web, filtered to your personal profile’, by Ansgar Koene, related to a project we are developing with regards to Ethical, Privacy and Agency implications of personalized information filtering systems.
- ‘Acting Out Digital Dilemmas to Promote Digital Reflections’, by Elvira Perez Vallejos, related to the iRights project.
The history of human experiments often focuses on biomedical research and the gradual changes in acceptable practice and ethical considerations. But another class of human experiments that has had its own share of controversies is the study of human behaviour.
Internet Mediate Human Behaviour Research (IMHBR) is primarily defined by its use of the internet to obtain data about participants. While some of the research involves active participation with research subjects directly engaging with the research, for example through online surveys or experimental tasks, many studies take advantage of “found text” in blogs, discussion forums or other online spaces, analyses of hits on websites, or observation of other types of online activity such as search engine histories or logs of actions in online games.
With the ever evolving and expanding interest in, and uses for, user related data, and the ever growing amount of user generated data, criticism of standard practice around ‘Terms & Conditions’ (T&Cs) as means for gaining ‘informed’ consent from users for accessing and using their data is becoming ever more vocal.
Internet is frequently held to be transforming social relationships, the economy, and vast areas of public and private life across all ages and, probably very soon, across all cultures no matter how remotely they are located (thanks to initiatives like Internet.org). Such arguments are routinely recycled in popular debates, in advertising and publicity materials, and indeed in academic contexts as well. Research discussions of the internet veer between celebration and paranoia; on the one hand the technology is seen to create new forms of community and civic life and to offer immense resources for personal liberation and empowerment, while on the other it poses dangers to privacy, to create new forms of inequality and commercial exploitation, as well as leaving the individual prey to addiction and pornography. Continue reading Internet on Trial: Celebration or Paranoia?
– Sunday June 30th, iRights Workshop: Discussion and brain-storming event to help the Southbank Centre Digital Team design the website to incorporate the principles of the iRights as part of their efforts at making the Southbank Centre website a world class destination.
The 2nd international conference on Internet Science “Societies, governance and innovation” will be organised in Brussels under the aegis of the European Commission, by the EINS project, the FP7 European Network of Excellence in Internet Science.
This highly multidisciplinary conference will allow to foster dialogue among scholars and practitioners belonging to various disciplines: Computer Science, Sociology, Art, Mathematics, Physics, Complex systems analysis, Psychology, Economics, Law, Political Science, Epistemology, etc.
Open Day and Scientific Conference
May 27: OPEN DAY
A registration-free event open to anyone interested in the Internet Science topic. An opportunity for the EINS Network of Excellence to interact with external stakeholders, detail project methodological approach, and showcase its results to a wider community. This open day will be an occasion for new stakeholders to join the EINS affiliate programme (Internet Science community) and to discuss on the Internet Science challenges of today and tomorrow.
May 28-29: SCIENTIFIC CONFERENCE
A scientific conference inviting researchers from various disciplines to present papers shedding light on Internet research, and in particular papers crossing rigid disciplines boundaries, describing original research and innovative ideas. Structured interactive sessions (roundtables and provocative panels) will be part of these two days.
In addition to an active contribution to the round-table discussion on “Internet Research Ethics: Striking a balance between conflicting interests” during the Open Day, CaSMa researcher Ansgar Koene will also present his paper on “Ethics of personalized information filtering” during the session on Internet and Innovation on May 29th.
Personalized information filtering by online search engines, social media, news sites and retailers represents a natural evolution in the development towards ever more finely tuned interaction with the users. Since the internet provides an overwhelming quantity of information on most topics, information overload has become one of the main concerns for users. Perceived quality of information services is therefore strongly determined by the ease with which the user can obtain some information that satisfies their current desires. For many of the most highly success internet service, like Google, Amazon.com, YouTube, Netflix and TripAdvisor, the recommender system is a key element in their success over rival services in the same sector. Some, like Netflix, openly acknowledge this even to the extent of awarding large prizes for anyone that can improve their recommender system.
As part of the “Conditions for Consent to analyze Social Media data” project within CaSMa, we have recently launched a survey to ask for your views about the type of information you would want to have before participating in social media research.
Willing consent from all parties involved in a transaction is generally accepted to be a corner stone in the foundation of ethical behavior, no matter if the interaction is of a personal (e.g. sex), professional (e.g. participation as research subject) or public (e.g. being quoted in the media) nature¹. And yet, when dealing with research, or any other interactions online, the mere facts that the interaction is mediated by machines appears to blur this fundamental concept in people’s minds.
‘Internet.org is a Facebook-led initiative bringing together technology leaders, non-profits and local communities to connect the two thirds of the world that doesn’t have Internet access.’ Continue reading Internet.org, affordable internet access at what cost?