Archive

Tag Archives: web science

Last week, I attended ACM CHI 2013 and Web Science 2013 in Paris. I had a great time and wanted to give a recap of both conferences, which were collocated.

CHI

2013-04-29 18.45.58

This was my first time at CHI – the main computer-human interaction conference. It’s not my main field of study but I was there to Data DJ. I had an interactivity submission accepted with Ayman from Yahoo! Reseach on using turntables to manipulate data. Here’s the abstract:

Spinning Data: Remixing live data like a music DJ

This demonstration investigates data visualization as a performance through the use of disc jockey (DJs) mixing boards. We assert that the tools DJs use in-situ can deeply inform the creation of data mixing interfaces and performances. We present a prototype system, DMix, which allows one to filter and summarize information from social streams using a audio mixing deck. It enables the Data DJ to distill multiple feeds of information in order to give an overview of a live event.

Paul Groth and David A. Shamma. 2013. Spinning data: remixing live data like a music dj. In CHI ’13 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI EA ’13). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 3063-3066. DOI=10.1145/2468356.2479611 http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/2468356.2479611 (PDF)

It was a fun experience… although it was a lot of demo giving (reception + all coffee breaks). The reactions were really positive. Essentially, once a person touched the deck they really got the interaction. Plus, a couple of notable people stopped by that seemed to like the interaction: Jacob Nielsen and @kristw from twitter data science. The kind of response I got made me really want to pursue the project more. I also learned about how we can make the interaction better.

The whole prototype system is available on github. I wrote the whole using node.js and javascript in a web browser.  Warning: this is very ugly code.

In addition to my demo, I was impressed with the cool stuff on display (e.g. traceable skateboards) as well as the number of companies there looking for talent. The conference itself was huge with 3500 people and it was the first conference I attended where they had multiple sponsored parties.

WebSci

Web Science was after CHI and is more in my area of research.

What we presented

2013-05-03 15.16.18

I was pleased that the VU had 8 publications at the conference, which is a really strong showing. Also two of our papers were nominated for the best paper award.

The two papers I had in the conference were very interdisciplinary.

These papers were chiefly done by the first authors both students at the VU. Anca attended Web Science and did a great job presenting our poster on using Google Scholar to measure academic independence. There was a lot of interest and we got quite a few ideas on how to improve the paper (bigger sample!).

The other paper by Fabian Eikelboom was very well received. It compared online and offline pray cards and tried to see how the web modified this form of communication. Here’s a couple of tweets:

Conference thoughts

I found quite a few things that I really liked at this year’s web science. A couple of pointers:

  • Henry S Thompson, Jonathan A Rees and Jeni Tennison: URIs in data: for entities, or for descriptions of entities: A critical analysis – Talked about the http range 14 and the problem of unintended extensibility points within standards. I think a critical area of Web Science is how the social construction of technical standards impacts the Web and its development. This is an example of this kind of research.
  • Catherine C. Marshall and Frank M. Shipman: Experiences Surveying the Crowd: Reflections on methods, participation, and reliability – really got me thinking about the notion of hypotheticals in law and how this relates to provenance on the web.
  • Panagiotis Metaxas and Eni Mustafaraj: The Rise and the Fall of a Citizen Reporter – a compelling example of how twitter influences the mexican drug war and how trust is difficult to determine online. The subsequent Trust Trails project looks interesting.
  • The folks over at the UvA at  digitalmethods.net are doing a lot of fun work with respect to studying the web as a social object. It’s worth looking at their work.
  • Jérôme Kunegis, Marcel Blattner and Christine Moser. Preferential Attachment in Online Networks: Measurement and Explanations – interesting discussion of how good our standard network models are.  Check out there collection of networks to download and analyze!
  • Sebastien Heymann and Benedicte Le Grand. Towards A Redefinition of Time in Information Networks?

Unfortunately, there were some things that I hope will improve for next year. First, as you can tell above the papers were not available online during the conference. This is really a bummer when your trying to tweet about things you see and follow-up later. Secondly, I thought there were a few too many philosophy papers. In particular, it worries me when a computer scientist is presenting a philosophy paper at a science conference. I think the program committee needs to watch out for spreading too thinly in the name of interdisciplinarity. Finally, the pecha kucha session was a real  success – short, succinct presentations that really raised interest in the work. This, however, didn’t carry over into the main sessions which often ran too long.

Overall, both CHI and Web Science were well worth the time – I made a bunch of connections and saw some good research that will influence some of my work. Oh and it turns out Paris has some amazing coffee:

2013-05-03 10.37.29

One of the ideas in the altmetrics manifesto was that almetrics allow a diversity of metrics. With colleagues in the VU University Amsterdam’s Network Institute, we’ve been investigating the use of online data (in this case google scholar) to help create new metrics to measure the independence of researchers. In this case, we need fresh data to establish whether an emerging scholar is becoming independent from their supervisor. We just had the results of one our approaches accepted into the Web Science 2013 conference. The abstract is below and here’s a link to the preprint.

Identifying Research Talent Using Web-Centric Databases 

Anca Dumitrache, Paul Groth, and  Peter van den Besselaar

Metrics play a key part in the assessment of scholars. These metrics are primarily computed using data collected in offline procedures. In this work, we compare the usage of a publication database based on a Web crawl and a traditional publication database for computing scholarly metrics. We focus on metrics that determine the independence of researchers from their supervisor, which are used to assess the growth of young researchers. We describe two types of graphs that can be constructed from online data: the co-author network of the young researcher, and the combined topic network of the young researcher and their supervisor, together with a series of network properties that describe these graphs. Finally, we show that, for the purpose of discovering emerging talent, dynamic online resources for publications provide better coverage than more traditional datasets.

This is fairly preliminary work, it mainly establishes that we want to use the freshest possible data for this work. We are expanding the work to do a large scale study  of independence as well as to use different sources of data. But to me, this shows how the freshness of web data allows us to begin looking at and measuring research in new ways.

It’s been about two weeks since we had the almetrics11 Workshop at Web Science 2011 but I was swamped with the ISWC conference deadline so I just got around till posting about this now.

The aim of the workshp was to gather together the group of people working on next generation measures of science based on the Web. Importantly, as organizers, Jason, Dario and I wanted to encourage the growth of the scientific side of altmetrics.

The workshop turned out to be way better than I expected. We had roughly 36 attendees, which was way beyond our expectations. You can see some of the attendees here:

There was nice representation from my institution (VU University Amsterdam) including talks by my collaborators Peter van den Besselaar and Julie Birkholtz. But we had attendees from Israel, the UK, the US and all over Europe. People were generally excited about the event and the discussions went well (although the room was really warm). I think we all had a good time the restaurant, the Alt-Coblenz – highly recommended by the way-and an appropriate name. Thanks to the WebSci organizing team for putting this together.

We had a nice mix of social scientists and computer scientists (~16 & 20 respectively). Importantly, we had representation from the bibliometrics community, social studies of science, and computer science.

Importantly, for an emerging community, there was a real honesty about the research. Good results were shown but importantly almost every author discussed where the gaps were in their own research.

Two discussions come to the fore for me. One was on how we evaluate altmetrics.  Mike Thelwall who gave the keynote (great job by the way) suggests using correlations to the journal impact factor to help demonstrate that there is something scientifically valid that your measuring. What you want is not perfect correlation but correlation with a gap and that gap is what your new alternative metric is then measuring. There was also the notion from Peter van den Besselaar is that we should look more closely our how our metrics match what scientists do in practice (i.e. qualitative studies). For example, do our metrics correlate with promotions or hiring. The second discussion was around where to go next with altmetrics. In particular, there was a discussion on how to position altmetrics in the research field and really it seemed to position itself within and across the fields of science studies (i.e scientometricswebometrics,virtual ethnograpy ). Importantly, it was felt that we needed a good common corpus of information in order to comparative studies of metrics. Altmetrics has the problem of data acquisition. While some people are interested in that others want to focus on metric generation and evaluation. A corpus of traces of science online was felt to be a good way to interconnect both data acquisition and metric generation and allow for such comparative studies. But how to build the corpus….Suggestions welcome.

The attendees wanted to have an altmetrics12 so I’m pretty sure we will do that. Additionally, we will have some exciting news soon about a journal special issue on altmetrics.

Some more links:

Abstracts of all talks

Community Notes

Also, could someone leave a link to the twitter archive in the comments? That would be great.

%d bloggers like this: