Workshop on Web Science for Development (WS4D2021)

Theme: Web Science for the new normal

IIIT-Bangalore, 19-20 Feb 2021

Workshop Chairs: Bidisha Chaudhuri (IIITB), Jai Ganesh (Mphasis), Srinath Srinivasa (IIITB) 

Venue: Online 

WS4D 2021 Registration: Click Here

(Note: Registration for Brave Conversations is valid for WS4D 2021 attendance as well)
-7Days -17Hours -2Minutes -8Seconds

The Web Science for Development (WS4D 2021) workshop is part of the web science research initiative at IIIT Bangalore. WS4D, started in 2019 brings together professionals from several domains, addressing different thematic concerns pertaining to the use of web and mobile technologies in social developmental efforts. 

The year 2020 has been unprecedented, bringing about fundamental disruptions in social and economic lives across the world. In tune with the worldwide “new normal”, WS4D 2021 will be held in a completely online mode, and also address the theme of the importance of Web Science in the new normal. 

WS4D 2021 is planned to be held over two days, from Feb 19-20, 2021. 

The first day is an event called “Brave Conversations” organised by a foundation called Intersticia, based in Australia. This features curated conversations between people from various strata of society, whose lives have been impacted by web and mobile technologies and/or are working towards creating large scale social impact using web and mobile technologies.

Prof. Dame Wendy Hall, Executive Director of the Web Science Institute at the University of Southampton and Senapathy ‘Kris’ Gopalakrishnan, co-founder of Infosys are the invited speakers.

The main workshop will be held as a full-day event on Feb 20, 2021, featuring several invited talks and panel discussions.


Brave Conversations | Friday, 19th Feb, 2021

8.30 amOpen Zoom Room
9.00 amInaugration and address by Prof. Sadagopan
9.15 amWelcome and Introductions
10.00 amBreak
10.15 amSession One – What is a Brave Conversation?
10.50 amBreak
11.00 amKris Conversation and Q & A
12.00 pmBreak
12.10 pmSession Two – Innovation and Risk in the Age of the Smart Machine
1.00 pmLunch
2.00 pmSession Three – The politics of digital governance
2.30 pmWendy Conversation and Q & A
3.30 pmBreak
3.45 pmFinal session – The Case Study
5.00 pmConclusion

WS4D Research Workshop | Saturday, 20th Feb, 2021

8.45 amOpen Zoom Room
9.00 am – 9.15 amInauguration and address by Prof. Das
9.15 am – 9.30 amIntroduction to WS4D Map by Prof. Srinath Srinivasa
9.30 am – 10.00 amTalk by Prasad Ram
10.00 am – 10.30 amTalk by Nishant Baghel
10.30 am – 11.00 amDiscussion with Nishant Baghel and Prasad Ram
11.00 am – 11.15 amBreak
11.15 am – 11.45 amTalk by Nachiket Mor
11.45 am – 12.15 pmTalk by T B Dinesh
12.15 pm – 12.45 pmDiscussion with T B Dinesh and Nachiket Mor
12.45 pm – 1.45 pmLunch Break
1.45 pm – 2.45 pmTalk by Pauline Leonard (Keynote address + Q&A)
2:45 pm – 3.00 pmBreak
3.00 pm – 3.30 pmTalk by Ponnurangam Kumaraguru
3.30 pm – 4.00 pmTalk by Preeti Mudliar
4.00 pm – 4.30 pmTalk by Raksha PS
4.30 pm – 5.00 pmDiscussion with Ponnurangam Kumaraguru, Preeti Mudliar and Raksha PS
5.00 pm – 5.15 pmClosing Remarks

Talk Details

Prasad Ram

Title: Learning Equity and Excellence in Complex Systems

Abstract: Dr. Prasad Ram, Founder, CEO of Gooru will present Gooru’s approach to tackling the complex learning system to ensure equity and excellence. Learning is complex and to move the needle in a complex learning system, where complex-causality is a key characteristic, we can influence the emergence of the desired state, rather than an uncontrolled process that generally results in some unknown and often undesired outcomes. Gooru working with IIIT-B and other leading researchers co-created Navigated Learning as an approach to enabling systemic change in learning. Gooru Labs at IIIT-B has been instrumental in the development of a free and open Gooru Navigator – a GPS for Learning, that uses real-time data to foster learner agency, enable practitioners to coordinate their support of learners, and catalyze the convergence of transdisciplinary research to integrate research with practice to accelerate outcomes for learners. Gooru Navigator is free for individual learners, instructors and guardians. Gooru Navigator is co-created with 14 transdisciplinary researchers to reach 7.2M learners by working with 60+ collaborators across disciplines and geographies. This talk will mention the origin of the practice of Navigated Learning in US Schools and Professional Learning. Dr. Ram will then particularly highlight how primary school students in Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh are practicing Navigated Learning in local languages, how skills training for Fitters, Welders and Electricians in Bhubaneswar use Gooru Navigator and how Sampoorna Swaraj is training gram-panchayat members in Karnataka using Gooru Navigator. Gooru Overview Presentation and Gooru Overview Video highlight our overall approach.

Bio-sketch: Dr. Prasad Ram (“Pram”) started Gooru as a “20% project” while at Google to develop a “GPS for Learning” where, students seeking to learn a topic are presented with a learning “route” based on their profile and “rerouted” based on their performance, until they reach their destination. In 2011, he established Gooru as a non-profit to bring the simplicity and universal usefulness of Maps experience to learning.

While at Google, Pram led Google Books for Education in Mountain View and before that he was the head of Google R&D in India where he led projects on Google Maps, News, Language Technologies, Search, and Ads. Pram received the Founders’ Award at Google in 2010 for his work on Google Ads. Prior to joining Google, Pram led engineering at Yahoo! and was a research scientist at Xerox Research. These are complicated systems with 100s of millions of users. But, Pram was interested in tackling complex problems and founded Gooru to address the social complexity with learning.

Pram has served as a Council Member and Chair of the Education Committee at the California Council of Science and Technology (CCST) and as a Board member at Leadership Public Schools (LPS). Pram has a Masters and Ph.D. in Computer Science from UCLA, and a B.Tech. in Computer Science from Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay, India.

Nishant Baghel

Title: Social media tools for lifelong learning

Abstract: Pratham’s experiment in using social media tools to take mentorship and skilling opportunities to the masses.

Bio-sketch: Nishant Baghel leads digital initiatives at Pratham as Director, Technology Innovations, leveraging advanced technologies for rural EdTech and creating learning opportunities for all. He oversees programmes that reach more than 5,00,000 children and have been recognised by the World Economic Forum as the only ‘School of Future’ from India.

Nachiket Mor

Title: Information Technology in Healthcare – the Promise and the Mirage

Abstract: Technology is a powerful tool and with a concerted approach can allow us in India to overcome our historic disadvantages in healthcare and leapfrog to even a post-modern healthcare system that is not only cheaper to operate but provides better care to all our citizens. However, for this to happen a carefully designed approach will need to be taken, and any form of faddishness eschewed, otherwise we run the risk of not only not improving the status of our health systems but severely exacerbating the current problems that we face.

Bio-sketch: Nachiket Mor has a PhD in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania. His current work is principally focused on the design of national and regional health systems. He is currently a Visiting Scientist at The Banyan Academy of Leadership in Mental Health and a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Information Technology and Public Policy at IIIT Bangalore. He is also a member of the Health Insurance Advisory Committee of the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India and a Commissioner on the Lancet Commission on Reimagining Health Care in India.

He was a member of the Planning Commission’s High-Level Expert Group on Universal Health Care, the Primary Care Task Force of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the Health Commission for the State of Himachal Pradesh, and the Standing Committee on Health Systems Strengthening at the National Academy of Medicine in Washington DC. He also helped create a new model for comprehensive primary care which was implemented by SughaVazhvu Healthcare in remote rural parts of Tamil Nadu and has informed the design of, among others, Government of India’s Health and Wellness Centres.

T B Dinesh

Title: ASPi – An ASPiration networking device?

Abstract: ASPi is a tiny computer with a screen and other peripherals such as speakers, camera, microphone and keyboard/mouse. Girls experience different ways in which a digital device can exist, adapt and assemble peripherals – say by connecting to a TV screen or projector to learn together or by using the camera to point at their hands during an
online session.

Services on the device encourage networking locally and globally, inclusion of low-literates in the group, storytelling and annotation of content so as to discover, navigate and use it for creating new media narratives. It also opens up to teach them about programming, electronics, IoT and robotics, while it introduces them to the entrepreneurial potential of open source devices.

Is this a way ahead for those who seek local indigenous archives for storytelling and renarration of cultural contexts?

Bio-sketch: T B Dinesh is a community media activist with a background in Computer Science. T B Dinesh is a founder of Janastu in Bangalore, India. The recent focus of their work is on storytelling methods and encouraging people from marginalised communities to tell their own stories and document their ways of life. Janastu is a non-profit that has been providing free and open-source software solutions and support to small not-for-profit and non-governmental organizations (NPOs/NGOs) since 2002.

90sec video:
8min video:

Pauline Leonard

Title: Artificializing inequality? How AI bolsters social and economic privilege.

Abstract: Over the last few years, a critically compelling set of evidence has been emerging to expose discrimination and bias embedded in many contemporary applications of AI, such as Automated Decision Making (ADM). ADM is increasingly widely used in the US but is also starting to be deployed in service delivery in other areas such as the UK, Western Europe and India. At the same time, a growing body of research is cataloguing the injustices built into the very design of ADM. From denying loans, mortgages, and credit cards to minorities, profiling non-white faces as more likely to (re)commit crime, or designing recruitment software which deselects feminine sounding names, the impact of ADM is clearly life changing. This presentation explores this issue, drawing primarily on findings from the US, but also emerging examples from the UK and India. I will be arguing that many of the ADM systems currently deployed naturalize dominant social identities and, in the process, reinforce inequalities and oppressive social relationships. I will be asking: what lessons can be learned as we develop our designs of AI?

Bio-sketch: Pauline Leonard is an Executive Director of the Web Science Institute and Professor of Sociology at the University of Southampton, UK. She is Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and of the Academy of Social Sciences. She has gained an international reputation for her expertise in diversity, inequality and exclusion, particularly in the contexts of work and organizational life. She is well-known for her work exploring the dynamics of race, gender and power and more recently has been investigating these in relation to sociotechnical practices and the impacts of digital innovation in the workplace. She is also researching the gendered dimensions of Smart Cities, and how these may impact on existing social inequalities. She has recently been awarded a UKRI grant to look at Robot-Human Teams and Trust. She is the author of eight books and multiple journal articles on these broad issues.

Ponnurangam Kumaraguru

Title: Web Science for Social Good

Abstract:  I will briefly mention some super cool projects that my students & I have worked on and that have made some visible contributions to the world outside academia. All work presented in the talk (including datasets, code, slides, recorded videos) has related publications at Projects that I will touch upon are — KillFie #GeneralElections2019 Fake News, and Computing for Medicine. We all understand, many real world problems cannot be addressed by a single domain faculty / researcher, we need multiple domain experts to come together, hoping to generate some interest among faculty & students working in overlapping domains to join hands to have an impact and make a difference. I will be happy to talk about any projects / ideas / thoughts, in detail, post my talk. 

Bio-sketch: Prof. Ponnurangam Kumaraguru (“PK”) is a Full Professor of Computer Science and Dean of Students Affairs at IIIT-Delhi. He is a Visiting Faculty at IIT Kanpur and an Adjunct faculty at IIIT Hyderabad. PK is an ACM India Council Member, and Chair of the Publicity & Membership Committee of ACM India. PK is a TEDx, an ACM Distinguished & ACM India Eminent Speaker. PK received his Ph.D. from the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). His Ph.D. thesis work on anti-phishing research at CMU contributed in creating an award-winning startup – Wombat Security Technologies, Wombat was acquired in March 2018 for USD 225 Million. PK was listed in the World’s 2% Scientists by Stanford University in Nov 2020. He is a senate member of IIIT Una, and is on various Board of Studies / Academic Council of different institutes across the country. He has co-authored research papers in the field of Privacy and Security in Online Social Media, Cyber Security, Computational Social Science, Social Computing, Data Science for Social Good, amongst others. In addition to his contributions to academia, PK is on advisory role on various government organizations, government committees, including a 8 member committee on Non-Personal Data by Government of India, chaired by Mr. Kris Gopalakrishnan. PK and his students have played an integral role in developing a technology used by many State and Central Government agencies in India. PK’s research work regularly gets featured on news media, including print, online, and TV within India and across the world; to list a few, BBC, CBC, CBS, CNN, Doordarshan, Economic Times, Indian Express, NBC, New Scientist,  NewYorker, Reuters, Times of India, USA Today (on 1st Feb 2021), Washington Post, and many more. PK Spear heads ACM India’s programs on improving the quality of PhD students in Computing in India — PhDClinic & Anveshan Setu Fellowship. In his Dean’s role, he manages a team of 15 faculty members and 10+ admin staff, including Associate Dean of Student Affairs, overseeing hostel, sports centre, health centre, student {well-being, clubs, mentorship program}, technical & cultural fests. He was the Founding Head of Cybersecurity Education and Research Centre (CERC) at IIIT-Delhi. PK started and successfully manages PreCog (, a research group at IIIT-Delhi. PK can be reached at

Preeti Mudliar

Title: Tech Nostalgia for Coping with the New Normal 

Abstract: The talk will present thoughts from a work in progress that attempts to understand the significance of nostalgic impulses for old and ‘dead’ web platforms in fast changing new media environments. 

Bio-sketch: Preeti Mudliar is assistant professor at IIIT-Bangalore. Her current research interests centre around technology access and use with a focus on gender, infrastructures, biometric welfare systems, platform gig work, and news processes that she investigates using a HCI/ICTD lens. Her work is informed by qualitative and ethnographic methods along with rigorous field immersion. She is quite often nostalgic and is trying to make sense of it, on the side, in the guise of academic work. More details about her work is available here

Raksha PS

Title: Invisible Stories that Drive Online Social DIscourse

Abstract: Social media platforms have transformed the way humans connect, communicate and interact, especially in the current situation where the whole world is facing a pandemic. Pervasiveness of the discussions and interactions that happen on social media has implications on many aspects of the offline world such as learning, politics, religion, entertainment and personal well-being. Social media plays a critical role in the social discourse or collective worldviews that continue to form in the society. Record of all interactions on social media provides an unique opportunity to understand various social phenomena. Research endeavours to understand human activity on social media have thus far addressed problems like identifying influencers, understanding opinion diffusion, rumour or fake news detection, campaign detection, stance detection, trend analysis, recommendation, summarizing posts, argument mining and discourse analysis etc. While addressing each of the mentioned research questions is important to understand multiple aspects of social media, there is a need for characterising the ‘macro’ impact of social media by understanding the ‘big picture’ of online social discourse. We propose to achieve this by computationally modelling the fundamental elements of an online social discourse. In the talk, we will present results from a specific usecase of online social discourse around the topic of ‘covid-19’.

Bio-sketch: Raksha is currently pursuing the Ph.D. degree with the International Institute of Information Technology, Bengaluru (IIITB), India. She has a Master’s degree in Web Technology and Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Visvesvaraya Technological University, Belgaum, India.

She was a Big Data Engineer with Cogknit Semantics Pvt., Ltd., Bengaluru. She is currently with Cogno Web Observatory, IIITB, which aims to observe and analyze the “macro” impacts of the WWW on the society. Her current research interests are web science, social media analytics, network science, information diffusion and Natural Language Processing. She is currently working on understanding the impact of social media on the social cognition of society.

WS4D Map

Details of resources relevant to the workshop.


Day 1: 19 Feb (Friday) 2021

Brave Conversations

Day 2: 20 Feb (Saturday) 2021

Research Workshop

Posted in WSL Events.