Digital (In)Equality, Digital Inclusion, Digital Humanism

Call for Papers for the WebSci’20 Workshop: Digital (In)Equality, Digital Inclusion, Digital Humanism

From its inception, the World Wide Web endeavours to be an open and free space for all for information and knowledge sharing and informed public democratic debate (see for example the ACM Turing Award lecture by Tim Berners-Lee at WebSci’18), in other words, “to serve humanity”. Still, there are many barriers and obstacles to this ideal, a situation commonly characterized as the Digital Divide.

Several billion people especially in the Global South do not have access to Internet/Web for reasons of lacking (affordable) infrastructure, poverty, low literacy, lack of digital skills, language, etc., and are thus digitally excluded.

But “the fringes of the Web” are not just a matter of the Global South. In the Global North, despite being technologically “advanced”, we also see severe digital inequalities and power disparities, in part for the same reasons and in part due to the Web being exploited as a centralized surveillance and money-making machine, controlled by big parties such as states and big corporations, thus creating further inequalities and exclusion.

In this workshop, we aim to bring together ongoing research on the Web and the Digital Divide and on what to do about it. Apart from empirically grounded (case) studies and theoretical analyses of mechanisms behind digital inequalities, we also seek,  in view of recent initiatives such as Digital Humanism or Tim Berners Lee’s SOLID initiative, programmatic or solution design-oriented work from multiple disciplines, and concrete experiences on what scientists and professionals can do to help redress matters of digital inequality and exclusion. We encourage work rooted in the Global South, as both topics of interest for and authors from the Global South are underrepresented in Web Science, but also welcome work addressing matters of the Digital Divide and underprivileged communities in the Global North.

Author information

The workshop is on Tuesday 07 July 2020, and will take place fully online. Thus, in view of COVID-19, participants who cannot travel will still be able to join and present and discuss their work remotely. For further information on the conference see:

Submission of papers should follow the ACM SIG Conference Proceedings template (acmart.cls), which is available at Papers are to be submitted via Easychair at

Papers can be up to 6 pages, but due to extraordinary circumstances we also will accept short papers of 2-3 pages that can be position-like, help to draw attention to  DigDivDigHum topics, and influence the international research agenda.

 Important dates:

  • Paper submission deadline: 19 April 2020
  • Notification: 03 May 2020
  • Final paper version due for the ACM WebSci Companion Proceedings: 15 May 2020

List of Topics

The workshop will focus on interactive discussion and reflection around the challenges of the Web and the Digital Divide, and ways to increase digital inclusion and reduce inequalities. Workshop paper submission subjects include (but are not limited to):

  • The role of the Web vs. barriers for underprivileged communities, and how to overcome them
    • Low literacy and the Web
    • Low resource environments and information sharing (e.g. Internet of Things)
    • Multi-modal Web access (speech, voice services, icons, mobile technologies)
    • The multilingual Web (e.g. for small under-resourced languages)
  • Increasing Digital Inclusion on the Web
  • AI for social good, AI for Sustainable Development
  • Social networks, the Web, and sustainable development
  • Mobile technologies and social development
  • Big and small data and the digital divide
  • Semantic Web and Linked Open Data for sustainable development
  • HCI for Development (HCI4D)
  • Social and empirical Web studies on societal impacts and effects for underprivileged communities
  • Globalization of the Web: processes, impacts, policies, localities
  • Ethical issues concerning ICTs in development
  • Evaluation methodologies for ICT4D, Digital Inclusion, Digital Humanism
  • Methodologies and experiences in socio-technical innovation
  • Participatory, Co-creation and Human-centered Web technologies and applications

Workshop programme

The workshop is scheduled for one full day (Tuesday 07 July 2020), and will have four sessions, two paper sessions and two moderated round-table discussions on general topics of interest.

Morning: Paper Session I

Morning: Round-Table Discussion I, Theme: Digital Divide Research between Academia and Practice: Matters of Methodology (envisaged moderator: Anna Bon)

Afternoon: Paper Session II

Afternoon:  Round-Table Discussion II, Theme: Digital Humanism and Education: Matters of Teaching and Learning (envisaged moderator: Francis Dittoh and/or Jaap Gordijn)

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