Yes but is it Web Science…?

One of the many ongoing debates in this space is the question often asked (by my PhD supervisor amongst others) about the nature of studying data ABOUT the Web (studying the structures and movements of Web Traffic and Users) vs studying ON the Web (say open data sets about bus times or how much councils spend on lunch).

Some argue that the latter is NOT Web Science since the data being studies is not “webby” .. however in Web Science we propose to study socio-technical effects in which the behaviour of users in society and the technologies they use interact.  Surely then, even though the bus times are themselves not “webby” if their availability on the Web causes some change in behaviour, tracking, funding or management of the service this may be a valid subject of studying the effect of the data on  different social groups.

One might argue that we have simply started at a different part of the socio-technical cycle…

I leave this to the reader to think over and argue for themselves…