WWW2015 reflection

I enjoyed WWW2015 because I got to hang out with emax and Dave and other SOCIAM people and talk about decentralisation, and eat lots of vegan gelato, and was still on a travelling and hacking high from the two weeks prior.

But content-wise, what I saw was disappointing at best, largely depressing. I unfortunately missed most of the SOCM workshop, which I'm sure would have catered to my tastes a lot more, as my presence was mandated in Microposts2015 on the same day. The Microposts workshops have a bias towards SNA of Twitter, in which I'm tangentially interested, but there's only so much SNA I can take and I think I took it all in 2013. The social science 'track' (two papers) was most interesting. I much prefer when social network users are treated as complex beings than dots and lines.

I flitted between tracks on security and privacy, and web science for a couple of days. I deliberately avoided anything to do with social networks which turned out to be damned difficult. Web science can be a bit big-data-analysis heavy, but often has some interesting human-social (as opposed to social-data) stuff to pique my interest. I went to security and privacy sessions because it's almost guarenteed to not have any social networks, and is usually either scandalous or practical, or both. Often over my head, but also often contains concepts directly relevant to my day-to-day that I wouldn't pick up on otherwise.

I almost cried at the programme for the last couple of days. Literally every session was about social data mining, bulk analysis of social data for tracking and profiling social network users, targeting advertisements, and generally selling people stuff. There was even a track called 'Monetization'. I figured the safest bet would be the W3C track which promised awesome WebRTC demos, which Claudio from Telecom Italia delivered, but then he [reminded](socialwg irc minutes) me that their interest in this stems from wanting to do live product placement in streaming video based on people's interests from social media and ohmygodicannoteven. I tweeted in anguish for a while, then dret summed it up pretty well:

"generally speaking, i'd like to see more "how to make the web work better" at #www2015, and less 'how to make more money with the web'." - @dret

In desperation (I'm on a linked data burnout currently) I dropped by the RDF session but it was ten similar-but-different-mine-is-better-i-promise ways of doing entity recognition - or if it was anything else it was so far divorced from practical application - and I just don't care.

In a last ditch attempt to learn something interesting, I went to the Industry Knowledge Graphs pecha kucha session. Google, Micorsoft, Elsevier and Tagasauris talked about how great they are at absorbing all the data. And.. getting the crowd to curate it nicely... and... not giving any of it back... oh. Because if someone uses it and it's wrong they might get sued? Sure. Whatever. Oh and then Lora Aroyo broke my heart by describing how to make anything and everything a 'shoppable experience' and Dave and I bolted to join Max in a coffee shop.

I had a great ciocolatte with almond milk, then we went for pre-dinner spaghetti in a rave cafe and talked about decentralisation and I recovered.

Overall it was a pretty productive couple of days, because I wrote this post about ActivityStreams and did some more AS2.0 experiments, fixed some bugs in my micropub endpoint and templates, and tweaked my CSS and added my /travel page. And evangelised the Social Web WG to Max a bit. Maybe I couldn't have done that if the conference had captured my interest, who knows.

And I discovered polenta toast with porcini mushrooms, and ate a lot of different flavours of vegan gelato. That's a net win.

🏷 academia advertising conferences events industry social media social network analysis www2015