This Monday evening, I’ll be chairing a panel of esteemed web academics at the Royal Society, including Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Northwestern’s Prof Noshir Contractor, Southampton’s Prof Nigel Shadboldt and Dame Wendy Hall and – my external examiner -  Oxford’s Prof Bill Dutton. We’ll be discussing Web Science, the multi-disciplinary arena of study that looks at the web holistically – from a social, economic, political, psychological point of view – rather than approaching it within a purely technical framework.

As a psychologist, I recognise the importance of examining this communication technology from within the social sciences for asking questions about its local and global impact. As I presented earlier this week at Brunel and have been positing in my list of Big Ideas, there are countless implications of the Web on our social lives that we really don’t know enough about. Here are a just few:

  • To what extent do recommendation engines encourage cultural homogeneity and serentipity?
  • How might the Web contribute to extremism because of confirmation biases and pluralistic ignorance?
  • What does the notion of having 700 ‘friends’ on a social media site mean for account holders?
  • What are the real social, political, economic and psychological long-term effects of the new Web in new territories?
There are, of course, many more.

The panel will be streamed live.

Web Science panel