After the opening ceremony, the conference started with a keynote on the development of web science by Dame Wendy Hall from the University of Southampton.
She outlined the history of the web from its inception to its current state, explaining how in the beginning the web was primarily about getting documents, whereas today it is all about sharing data and getting answers to questions. This paradigm shift has brought us developments like crowd sourcing, where human intelligence is leveraged for various purposes, like discovering new galaxies.
In the second part of the keynote, Dame Wendy explored the validity of web science. She stated that the web is not only about technology, but also – more importantly – about what people do with it, thus necessitating a socio-technological perspective. Society creates the web by putting stuff on it and, in turn, the web changes the way that our society works.
Web science studies these socio-technological phenomena by studying collective intelligence, emergence, social networks, crowd sourcing and the mobile web.