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Rough Guides

What are Web Observatories?

“Do you know what a web observatory is?” demanded our lecturer. “Er  - a place where you watch what’s happening on the Web?” volunteered a classmate.  Basically, although we’d heard of ‘Web observatory methods’ while preparing for our dissertations, it became clear that few of us had thought through what these might entail beyond a vague idea of sitting around checking out other people’s Facebook activity. Continue reading →

Crowd Sourcing

Crowd (or citizen) journalism emerged as an effective source of news during the Arab Spring, and during the London riots of 2011 became understood as a trustworthy one. Crowdfunding came of age with product success such as the Pebble watch, and the Securities and Exchange Commission relaxing rules on equity crowdfunding. Continue reading →


It’s not a stream of water, its a stream of data. Rather, if you think of your Twitter feed as a (more or less) gently flowing brooklet of data, the massive totality of Twitter data at any given moment is akin to the water brutally gushing out of a firehose. This firehose streams data  - historical and/or real time tweets - to partners who have a commercial or intellectual use for it. Who would have such a use? Academics, for one. Continue reading →

Introducing Web Science “Rough Guides”

The World Wide Web is a pretty big thing. Just how big no-one is exactly sure, but in 2008 Google hit the milestone of indexing 1 trillion pages. That’s a lot of information. Add to that all the metadata, all the ways of commercialising information, all the data analysis, and all the ways we think about these things and it becomes clear that knowledge of and about the Web is simply extraordinarily vast. Continue reading →