Seminar: "Researching the Web of Knowledge"

Past Event

26 June 2006, 4:30pm - 6:00pm

Said Business School
Park End Street, Oxford OX1 1HP


  • Dr Robert Ackland, Fellow, Research School of Social Sciences, ANU
  • Franz Barjak, Research Fellow, School of Business, University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland (FHNW)
  • Michael Macy, Professor and Chair, Sociology, Cornell


Hyperlinks in academia: some stylised facts and a first attempt at model development (Franz Barjak)

  • The talk will summarise the key results of empirical studies on hyperlinks in the academic web. In particular, it will distinguish between the roles of the information displayed on the target page and the characteristics of the page owner. Combining these findings I will propose a model on the factors that drive the number of inlinks pointing to an academic web page (the so-called Web Impact Factor, WIF) which is a measure for its visibility. The implications go beyond the internet as a communication medium, as hyperlinks have been considered frequently as an alternative to citations in scientometrics.

Virtual Observatory for the Study of Online Networks (VOSON) (Rob Ackland)

  • The (Virtual Observatory for the Study of Online Networks) is facilitating innovative and collaborative social science research into the existence and impact of networks on the Internet. The VOSON Project consists of researchers from both the computer and social sciences who are working on the development of new tools for research into online networks and the use of these tools in empirical social science research. The VOSON System is web-based software that incorporates web mining, data visualisation, and more 'traditional' empirical social science methods. The VOSON System is being built using a web services framework to facilitate access and sharing of distributed resources such as datasets, methods and computational cycles. VOSON therefore involves the use of emerging e-Research (or cyberinfrastructure) technologies in the social sciences and hence is a leading example of e-Social Science. In this talk, Robert Ackland will give an overview of the VOSON Project and System with particular reference to new VOSON-facilitated research into online environmental activist networks.

The Cornell Internet Database: 200 Terabytes for Social Research (Michael Macy)

  • The Cornell Cyberinfrastructure project will create a research laboratory for social science research based on the Internet Archive's 40-billion page Web collection. These snapshots of the Web have been captured and archived every two months for nearly ten years. The project will copy and reconfigure large portions of this massive collection as a relational database that can be used for research on social and information networks. The flood of available on-line information - from corporate web pages to news groups, wikis, and blogs - has the potential to open up new frontiers in social science research on the diffusion of innovations and beliefs, the self-organization of on-line communities, and the collective behaviour of individuals. The Cornell team, composed of social, computer, and information scientists, will develop, test, and refine the necessary tools as part of a series of testbed research applications.