Massimo Ragnedda This year as every year at the annual World Wide Web Conference the topic under consideration is the future direction of the World Wide Web. The Conference will be an extremely useful opportunity to discuss and understand the social consequences and impact of the new technologies of Communication on culture and it inspires small and large companies to aim for a more dynamic and truly global world wide web. The Conference aims to provide the world a premier forum for discussion and debate about the evolution of the Web and the standardization of its associated technologies. Furthermore it is a great opportunity to witness exclusive demonstrations firsthand, attend international project community meetings and consortiums, world premier announcements and have meetings with young scientists and innovative companies.
Among others participants the Conference will feature Tim Berners-Lee, who invented the World Wide Web and who wrote the first web client and server in 1990; Neelie Kroes, who is Vice President of the European Commission and European Digital Agenda Commissioner; Chris Welty, a Research Scientist at the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center in New York; and Bernard Stiegler, director of IRI (Innovation and Research Institute) at the Georges Pompidou Center in Paris, a Professorial Fellow at the Centre for Cultural Studies at Goldsmith College in London and a professor at the University of Technology of Compiègne where he teaches philosophy.
Of course they are not the world wide web’s only leading academic, political, scientific and industrial actors invited at the conference: there are many others speakers coming from the four corners of the world. Hundreds of scholars and thousands of delegates will join the conference in Lyon (France) from 16 to 20 April. For a week Lyon will be the world Web capital for an event in the field of web research that as an impressive scientific impact: 4000 citations.
“Society and Knowledge” is the leading theme of the 2012 edition. Some scholars or scientists are more interested in web technologies, standards and practices, as the web raises the most advanced technological questions, and others, like me, are more interested in the human relationships that depend more and more on new technologies, such as computers, mobile phones and on their social network identities. Indeed, the new technologies enable us to interact with others as human relationships in new interconnected virtual habitats become increasingly dependant on these objects. This “dependency” creates a new sociability pattern of being constantly online and present and of relationships becoming a fluid ever-changing continuum.
WWW 2012 also raises social, societal and philosophical issues, which are critical web research subjects. As a sociologist I’m interested in understanding new sociability patterns and the new forms of human relationship and to understand the consequences these new technologies could have on real life outside the virtual world. Furthermore I’m interested in understanding and arguing about the social consequences of the new way of communication on Social Networking Sites (SNS). Indeed social media – and SNS in particular — plays a key role in providing insights into peoples’ activities, opinions and everyday lives. These detailed user-generated information-online streams offer a unique opportunity for individuals to engage, communicate and socialize. Living in an accelerating, super-fast interconnected world of information where the demand for an instant update and news is present here and now, different forms of communication dynamics are formed, referring to the socio-technological communication processes online.
So, the conference brings together researchers, users and commercial ventures, developers, and all who are passionate about the Web and what it has to offer. This conference will put together different perspectives and approaches, different aims and interests, but all related to the evolution of the Web. The full list of workshops with the goals, motivation and topics are available at http://www2012.wwwconference.org/
Massimo Ragnedda works at the University of Sassari.