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What is it about the Web that fascinates you?

Watch Prof Les Carr and Prof Susan Halford discuss what drew them to Web Science from their respective backgrounds in computer science and sociology.
LES CARR: I’m Les Carr. And I’m Southampton’s first professor of Web science and very proud to be.
SUSAN HALFORD: My name’s Susan Halford. I’m professor of sociology in the School of Social Sciences at the University of Southampton. I’m also head of the Department of Sociology and Social Policy.
LES CARR: Web science is the study of the Web and the people who use it and how the people who use it make the Web different and how the Web makes the people different.
SUSAN HALFORD: Web science is the study of the worldwide Web, which is something that most people probably think they know all about. But actually the Web is a very, very complicated thing to think about.
LES CARR: I started off as a computer scientist creating software for the Web, for bringing collections of information to the Web, for providing interesting new services for the Web. And it was as I was involved in efforts to do things through the Web that I realised that I was missing part of the piece, part of the jigsaw, most of the jigsaw. I had part of the solution. I could see the software and what it should be. But for some reason, it just wasn’t joining up with everything. What is it about the Web that meant that some things were successful and some things weren’t successful.
And for me, that’s what made me go and try to find this new subject, which we’ve called Web science now.
SUSAN HALFORD: I think that’s really interesting. Because I’m a sociologist, as you know, and my particular area is the sociology of work and organisation. And all my research and academic life I’ve looked into how organisations are changing. And I’d become really interested in digital innovation at work and how the Web was changing workplaces and changing working lives. And I’ve become very, very interested in telemedicine and the use of digital innovation in health care. And just like you’re saying this, actually what was happening was people were coming out with these terribly, terribly good ideas about how they could make health care better or do health care across distance. And people weren’t using it.
And I became really, really interested in how do the social relationships that people have in the workplace and the organisations come together with the technologies. Why do some technologies work and some technologies don’t seem to get taken up and used? And that led me to think much more about the place of technology in society and the place that technologies have in sometimes changing our world but also sometimes really keeping things as they are, solidifying and holding things in place. But you know what, I don’t know very much about technologies. So I’m quite knowledgeable about sociology, social theory, and ideas about the world, the world that we make as social actors and individuals in our everyday lives.
But I didn’t understand very much about the Web. And I certainly didn’t understand really how it worked or where it was going. And I just felt that I needed to know more about that in order to understand the place of the Web in our changing world.

In this short video you meet Professor Les Carr and Professor Susan Halford, the lead educators, who talk about what drew them to Web Science.

In this step we would like to encourage you to join our global community and add yourself onto our interactive map. We also introduce you to our online facilitation team and give you more information about what this course is about.

From watching Les and Susan, you’ve found out what it is about the Web that fascinates them. What is it about the Web that fascinates you?

Join the global community

We’d love to find out more about you.

Where in the world are you?

Add yourself to our interactive map below. Here is how to do this:
  1. Click on the link.
  2. At the top left of the map click the tab marked ‘Additions’.
  3. Choose ‘Add Marker- Simple’.
  4. Type your name in the Entry Name field. We suggest that you use only your first name for security reasons.
  5. Type your location in the location field (e.g. your city & country). Alternatively you can use the ‘click on map location’ feature. Please don’t put your full address for security reasons.
  6. Hit submit!
Once you have added yourself to the map, please click the ‘back button’ on your browser to come back here. Then introduce yourself in the comments area and tell us what it is about the Web that fascinates you.

Go to the Interactive Map

Your online mentoring team

During the course, Web Science PhD candidates Johanna Walker and Manuel Leon will be supporting Les and Susan.

You can follow them by clicking the links to their FutureLearn profile pages and selecting ‘follow’. That way, you’ll be able to see all the comments that they make.

What is this course about?

The World Wide Web has changed the world. It has changed the ways we communicate, collaborate, and educate. We increasingly live in a Web-dependent society in a Web-dependent world. The Web is also the largest human information construct and it is growing faster than any other system.

However, it is a striking fact that there is no systematic discipline to study the Web.

We need to understand the current, evolving, and potential Web but at the moment we have no means of predicting the impact that future developments in the Web will have on society or business.

Web Science aims to anticipate these impacts.

It is the study of the social behaviours in the Web at the inter-person, inter-organizational and societal level, the technologies that enable and support this behaviour, and the interactions between these technologies and behaviours.

Having successfully completed this Course, you will:

  • have knowledge and understanding of the Web as a socio-technical phenomenon;

  • be able to discuss the evolution of the Web;

  • have an awareness of current and emerging research questions for Web Science.

Video update on the week’s activities

Our mentoring team will be sharing their thoughts on the week’s activities via a near real-time video update on our YouTube channel. The link will be posted on step 1.14 no later than the 19:00 GMT Saturday 8th July 2017.

If you have any questions for the team, please either add these into the comments on step 1.14 or use the course hashtag #FLwebsci on Twitter. Please use the ‘Like’ buttons as we will be looking to answer the most popular questions.

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Web Science: How the Web Is Changing the World

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