Editorial Team

The International Institute of Information Technology Bangalore (IIITB), conducted the third Web Science for Development (WS4D) workshop with the ‘Brave Conversations 2021’ conference on February 19-20th. The virtual event further developed the conversations begun in 2020 whilst exploring the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic as a catalyst for a leap forward in global digitalisation. It also included a multitude of workshops and panel discussions conducted by IIITB’s Web Science Lab.

With the aim of creating a fast-paced learning environment the concept of ‘Brave Conversations’ provides a dynamic opportunity to explore the impact of Web Science on the everyday lives of ordinary citizens. Hosted by Prof. S. Sadagopan, Director, IIITB and Dr Srinath Srinivasa, Brave Conversations is guided by Ms. Anni Rowland-Campbell, philanthropist and Web Science practitioner, Web Science Trust, who through conversations with guests Professor Dame Wendy Hall, Regius Professor – Computer Science, University of Southampton (returning to the conference for the second time), and Senapathy ‘Kris’ Gopalakrishnan, Chairman – Axilor Ventures and former CEO – Infosys, highlight some of the thornier issues facing us all as we increasingly move our lives online. Each conversation was followed by an interactive Q&A session designed to be challenging and thought provoking.

The second day of the workshop was inaugurated by Prof Debabrata Das, Director Designate, IIITB, and entailed over eight talks and discussions led by experienced speakers, professors and students – Dr Prasad Ram, Founder & CEO, Gooru, Nishant Baghel, Director – Technology Innovations, Pratham, Dr Nachiket Mor, Senior Research Fellow, CITAPP – IIITB, T B Dinesh, Founder, Janastu, Prof Pauline Leonard, Executive Director – Web Science Institute and Professor of Sociology, University of Southampton, Prof Ponnurangam Kumaraguru, Professor – Computer Science and Dean of Student Affairs, IIIT-Delhi, Preeti Mudliar, Assistant Professor, IIITB, and Raksha PS, PhD student, IIITB. The discussions aim to address varying concerns that surround the use of web technologies and its effects on humanity.

Professor Sadagopan, Director, IIITB had chaired the ‘20th International World Wide Web’ Conference in Hyderabad in 2011 and holds the subject close to his heart. As the Lab Director at IIITB Web Science labs, he says, “Web Science as a discipline was born as an increasing number of individuals realised the need to understand how the web and related technologies can affect humankind. With events like the WS4D and ‘Brave Conversations’, we hope to encourage and provide platforms for open conversations surrounding the relationship between humanity and technology. The last year has seen proactive, fast-paced changes to the digital and functional aspects of how we work, and I am interested to hear how our attendees and speakers feel about the situation.”

Dr Srinath Srinivasa, Dean (R&D), IIITB added, “The objective this year is to spark relevant conversations on the effects the pandemic has had on changing the world’s digital environment. We not only want to provide a platform, but also be a part of the event to track different opinions expressed. The goal is not to simply inspire debate, but also to inspire action.”

“There is a sense of continuity that stems from actionable conversations”, said Prof Debabrata Das, Director Designate, IIITB. “I look forward to the invigorating ideas that will be discussed at the workshop tomorrow and hope to see our participants draw parallels from today’s conversation. No conference works in silos. Each thought stemming from discussions can inspire the action that spurs invention.”

‘Brave Conversations’ is the result of a series of conferences organised to discuss emerging issues surrounding humanity and technology by an accomplished group of luminaries from the Web World. The conversations are generated by the participants who bring their backgrounds, knowledge and experience to discuss the relationship between technology and society.

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