The Web Observatory Extension: Facilitating Web Science Collaboration through Semantic Markup

The multi-disciplinary nature of Web Science and the large size and diversity of data collected and studied by its practitioners has inspired a new type of Web resource known as the Web Observatory. Web observatories are platforms that enable researchers to collect, analyze and share data about the Web and to share tools for Web research. At the Boston Web Observatory Workshop 2013, a semantic model for describing Web Observatories was drafted and an extension to the schema.org microdata vocabulary collection was proposed. This paper details our implementation of the proposed extension, and how we have applied it to the Web Observatory Portal created by the Tetherless World Constellation at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (TWC RPI). We recognize this effort to be the "first-step" in the construction, evaluation and validation of the Web observatory model and not the final recommendation. Our hope is that this extension recommendation and our initial implementation sparks additional discussion among the Web Science community of on whether such direction enables Web Observatory curators to better expose and explain their individual Web Observatories to others, thereby enabling better collaboration between researchers across the Web Science community.

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The Web Science Research Center at TWC RPI is working with other members of the Web Science Trust to create a global "Web Observatory". The global movement toward Open Data and transparency have successfully motivated the release of very large institutional and commercial data sets describing social phenomena, economic indicators and geographic trends.

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