School of Communication

May 18, 2011

SONIC research group hosts inventor of the Internet and international group of researchers


Sir Tim Berners-Lee presenting.
Photo courtesy of Tommy Rousse.

Web Science met Network Science at the third annual International Workshop on Network Theory hosted at Northwestern in March.

Held the same weekend as the annual Complexity Conference organized by the Northwestern Institute on Complex Systems (NICO) and the Science of Networks in Communities (SONIC) research group at Northwestern, the workshop and the conference featured talks by distinguished guests Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web; Beth Simone Noveck, who recently served in the White House as U.S. deputy chief technology officer; and Duncan J. Watts, head of the human social dynamics group at Yahoo! Research.

The "Web Science Meets Network Science" workshop included discussions of the emerging field of Web science, research possibilities enabled by the massive amount of readily available online data, and the effects of the Web on traditional social sciences.

The workshop was organized by the Northwestern University SONIC research group, the Annenberg Network of Networks (ANN) at the University of Southern California (USC), and the Northwestern Institute on Complex Systems (NICO). Funding was provided by a National Science Foundation grant to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a MacArthur Foundation grant, and Northwestern University.

About 60 people attended the invitation-only workshop, and many stayed for the public complexity conference, which drew approximately 300 attendees.


Photo courtesy of Tommy Rousse.

Workshop attendees explored the question of where the two emerging fields of web science and network science overlap and diverge.

"In one sense, Web science is a subset of network science. In another sense, network science is a subset of Web science," said workshop co-chair Noshir Contractor, led by Noshir Contractor, the Jane S. & William J. White Professor of Behavioral Sciences in the McCormick School of Engineering & Applied Science, the School of Communication and the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and director of the SONIC Research Group.

The annual workshop will likely be hosted at USC next, and will continue to explore how Network Theory can contribute to socially relevant issues.


Graphic showing the "network" of the people who attended the conference.

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