D-CENT event: Network democracy for a better city

27 Apr

Source: http://dcentproject.eu/2015/04/d-cent-event-network-democracy-for-a-better-city/

Exciting news! We have set the date and preliminary agenda for the next D-CENT event. On May 5th, we will be hosting a conference in Barcelona which dives into Network democracy for a better city. Our plan is to inspire a great number of high-level policy makers, academics, activists, civic society organisations, and hackers to debate the future of democratic City Governments.

Flyer_front_ENG_web-726x1024Together we will explore new ways of strengthening citizens’ participation in the political process presenting already existing digital tools for a more participatory democracy. We will also discuss how future democratic city infrastructures and governments should look like.

Our discussions will start from the assumption that institutions are in great need of revival since they are out of synchronization with the 21st century technologies, norms and collective aspirations. They haven’t been able to respond and adapt to the new technologies of participation, transparency and proximity, which for instance Spanish citizens demanded since the big wave of the 15-M indignados movement in 2011 that radically changed Spanish politics.

The crisis of political representation and legitimacy of current institutions, corruption scandals that unveiled the major political parties’ complicity with private interest, and the public disaffection with politics can be addressed by reinventing and reactivating political participation, with concrete proposals to devolve greater control and power to citizens.

This is the second larger event the project has organised since its launch in 2013. The previous one was held in London last year with the theme Re-imagining democracy and currency in Europe.

The event is free of charge but requires registration via Eventbritehttp://bit.ly/1E2lGCw.

Our venue will be Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (C/Montalegre, 5 – 08001 Barcelona).

The event is hosted by D-CENT, Open University of Catalunya (one of D-CENT partners) and Tecnopolitica.

Download flyer: http://dcentproject.eu/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Flyer_two-sided.pdf


Interactions of Cultures and Top People of Wikipedia from Ranking of 24 Language Editions

5 Mar

This week, our latest article with Young-Ho Eom, David Laniado, Andreas Kaltenbrunner, Sebastiano Vigna & Dima L. Shepelyansky has been published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE (full article here).

In this paper, we apply methods of Markov chains and Google matrix on 24 editions of Wikipedia that cover languages which played an important role in human history and include Western, Asian and Arabic cultures. We find spatial, temporal, and gender skewness in Wikipedia. Each language edition highlights local figures so that most of its own historical figures are born in the countries which use the language of the edition. In summary, we believe that the analysis of historical figures can be a useful step towards the understanding of local and global history and interactions of world cultures.


Birth place distributions over countries of the top historical figures of 24 Wikipedia edition, according to PageRank.


Wikipedia is a huge global repository of human knowledge that can be leveraged to investigate interwinements between cultures. With this aim, we apply methods of Markov chains and Google matrix for the analysis of the hyperlink networks of 24 Wikipedia language editions, and rank all their articles by PageRank, 2DRank and CheiRank algorithms. Using automatic extraction of people names, we obtain the top 100 historical figures, for each edition and for each algorithm. We investigate their spatial, temporal, and gender distributions in dependence of their cultural origins. Our study demonstrates not only the existence of skewness with local figures, mainly recognized only in their own cultures, but also the existence of global historical figures appearing in a large number of editions. By determining the birth time and place of these persons, we perform an analysis of the evolution of such figures through 35 centuries of human history for each language, thus recovering interactions and entanglement of cultures over time. We also obtain the distributions of historical figures over world countries, highlighting geographical aspects of cross-cultural links. Considering historical figures who appear in multiple editions as interactions between cultures, we construct a network of cultures and identify the most influential cultures according to this network.

D-CENT: Review Meeting

15 Dec

Today, we have held the 1st Year Review Meeting of the project FP7-ICT-D-CENT in Brussels. The objectives of the review were to establish:

  • the degree of fulfillment of the project work plan for the relevant period and of the related deliverables;
  • the continued relevance of the objectives and breakthrough potential with respect to the scientific and industrial state of the art;
  • the resources planned and utilized in relation to the achieved progress, in a manner consistent with the principles of economy, efficiency and effectiveness;
  • the management procedures and methods of the project;
  • the beneficiaries’ contributions and integration within the project;
  • the expected potential impact in scientific, technologic, economic, competitive and social terms (where relevant), and the plans for the use and dissemination of results.


I presented, with the indispensable collaboration of my colleague Javier Toret (UOC), our work during this first year. In particular, we explain our tasks in “WP2: Network driven data analysis, modelling and visualisation” devised to explore and characterise new organizational models emerging from networked movements of citizens. This analysis will inspire the design of the D-CENT platform. Finally, we also presented the current status of the Spanish pilot for direct democracy.

D-CENT: Technical Design of Open Social Web for Crowdsourced Democracy

5 Dec

D4.3The latest deliverable of D-CENT project has been released: D4.3 Technical Design of Open Social Web for Crowdsourced Democracy. The file contains the technical architecture of the D-CENT nodes, each with its own social data store, in order to allow D-CENT to be used for the direct democratic decision-making pilots.


Disclaimer: This report is currently awaiting approval from the EC and as such cannot be not considered as final version.

Executive Summary:

The overall objective of Work Package 4 is to design the technical specifications for a standards-based, privacy-aware and decentralized D-CENT platform for open democracy. In this deliverable, we present here the technical architecture of the D-CENT nodes, each with its own social data store, in order to allow D-CENT to be used for the direct democratic decision-making pilots. In particular we will describe: (i) the federated and privacy-aware social networking architecture for the core D-CENT platform that allows communities to own their social data (“data portability”), and crowd-source a data-driven “map” of their social relationships and environment (ii) design of participatory democratic decision-making modules (which include publishing articles and contents, collaborative text writing for instance in crowdsourced legislation, share annotations, debate and voting) for D-CENT that enables these communities to self-organise and make decisions, keeping a collective memory of their activity. The capabilities needed by each pilot will be mapped to a set of requirements that result in a gap-analysis of the core social-networking codebase of D-CENT. A number of core features, such as easy-to-use group access control, collaborative writing and voting mechanisms, and multi-media objects will be factored into features to be added to the D-CENT platform. Equally importantly, the integration of the crowd-sourcing PyBossa platform and the open social datastore (with export to RDF and the ability to use CKAN for human-produced metadata about data-stores) will be included as part of the work led by the OKFN as D-CENT enabled applications.

Advanced capacities such as the ability for communities to discover resources from sensor data-streams and mapping data other and resources may also become requirements coming from the use cases. Each of the direct democratic decision-making tools will be analysed for functionality. This functionality will include posting new Articles, comments and annotations on articles based on the Democracy OS codebase, discussion and deliberation; Voting on a text with series of options, including weighted voting and blockchain voting; Collaborative bottom-up editing; Notification engine with users preferences (Sending reminders out and decision results using Twitter). Core D-CENT features will be also included such as strong authentication; Single sign-on; Identity Management; Access Control for Groups, Secure Messaging, and the implementation of standards led by the W3C Social Web Working Group such as ActivityStreams, Federation, and Data Portability. Each pilot will run whatever tools, possibly different, necessary to solve their local problem from a combination of D-CENT core features and D-CENT application.

The output of this deliverable is the production a technical design for implementers that is strongly linked to the social requirements coming from the pilots (see D1.2 and D1.2 for a detailed description of our lean UX development methodology). This Deliverable will outline the technical details of the crowd-sourcing, open-data, and democratic decision-making tools capabilities of the federated social networking platform. eco-system that could then be generalized to address needs throughout Europe and beyond. The inputs for the technical design come from the ongoing and iterative social design that is happening with the D-CENT communities on the ground. This results in diverse pilots and experiments that constitute an open decentralised democracy ecosystem that will communicate via standards (as outlined in D4.1 and D 4.2) and factor out, from each successful application, a common decentralized social data platform for democracy, the D-CENT platform, whose open-source components can then be shared and build future applications. This modular, open and standard-based characteristic of the DCENT platform will make it easier to integrate in the future the digital social currency design based on the Bitcoin block-chain (D4.4) and its implementation (D 5.5) of the second pilots through JSON API.

Following the “lean” process outlined in D1.1 and D1.2, the ultimate target of the D-CENT development process to build software that users actually want, while taking into account what technical aspects of current applications are currently addressing real social needs, as well as a “gap analysis” of where existing solutions fall short. Furthermore, across all three pilots common needs will be taken into account, as well as fundamental design principles around data protection, security, open source, and decentralization. Thus, what is necessary is given the social requirements given by each of the pilots and explained in detail in D1.2, to essentially “map” these social requirements to technical features that we believe may fulfil the needs of users. Of course, through experimentation it may be possible that these needs are not actually fulfilled by the technical features, and thus further iteration is required. Just like the technical recommendations in D4.1 and D 4.2, the recommendations in this deliverable are non-binding, but nonetheless provide a valuable map with dependencies and open decisions to help coders navigate the features needed for the decentralized social networking and direct democracy DCENT applications. The features here described will be then prioritised within WP 5 (D5.1: D5.2: D5.3) and each application of the D-CENT platform will then be built integrating users feedback and requirements coming from the pilots during the testing phases.

Who are my Audiences? A Study of the Evolution of Target Audiences in Microblogs

13 Nov

Also this week, the article “Who are my Audiences? A Study of the Evolution of Target Audiences in Microblogs” by my colleagues Ruth García-Gavilanes, Andreas Kaltenbrunner, Diego Sáez-Trumper, Ricardo Baeza-YatesDavid Laniado and me will be presented in the 6th International Conference on Social Informatics (SocInfo 2014).

In this paper, we study the evolution of Twitter users across groups between 2011 and 2013 (see the Sankey diagram in the next figure). Our findings indicate that user behaviour is evolving from conversational purposes to an increasing interest in using this microblogging service for sharing URLs. The results could bring a final answer to the question asked some years ago by Kwak, Lee, Park and Moon: “What is Twitter, a social network or a news media?



User behavior in online social media is not static, it evolves through the years. In Twitter, we have witnessed a maturation of its platform and its users due to endogenous and exogenous reasons. While the research using Twitter data has expanded rapidly, little work has studied the change/evolution in the Twitter ecosystem itself. In this paper, we use a taxonomy of the types of tweets posted by around 4M users during 10 weeks in 2011 and 2013. We classify users according to their tweeting behavior, and find 5 clusters for which we can associate a different dominant tweeting type. Furthermore, we observe the evolution of users across groups between 2011 and 2013 and find interesting insights such as the decrease in conversations and increase in URLs sharing. Our findings suggest that mature users evolve to adopt Twitter as a news media rather than a social network.

Datactic, Data with Tactics

10 Nov

datacticThis week, the article “DaTactic, Data with Tactics: Description and evaluation of a new format of online campaigning for NGOs“, written by Saya Sauliere, Rebeca Díez Escudero, Alberto Abellán and me, will be presented at City Labs Workshop – SocInfo 2014. According to the organizing committee, the workshop is devised to bring together researchers and practitioners to discuss and explore the research challenges and opportunities in applying the pervasive and social computing paradigm to understand cities. In our paper, we describe and evaluate #DaTactic2, the second event launched by the DaTactic initative.

Abstract: Social media has emerged as a powerful communication channel to promote actions and raise social awareness. Initiatives through social media are being driven by NGOs to increase the scope and effectiveness of their campaigns. In this paper, we describe the DaTactic2 campaign, which is both an offline and online initiative supported by Oxfam Intermón devised to gather activists and NGOs practitioners and create awareness on the importance of the 2014 European Parliament election. We provide details regarding the background of the campaign, as well as the objectives, the strategies that have been implemented and an empirical evaluation of its performance through an analysis of the impact on Twitter. Our findings show the effectiveness of bringing together relevant actors in an offline event and the high value of creating multimedia content in order to increase the scope and virality of the campaign.

Co-keywords graph from TV3 news in 2013

24 Oct

Last evening, I attend, with my collegues David Laniado and Ariadna M. Fernández, the Urbanbeers @_BIG BANG DATA (II edition) hosted by the Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona. When we arrived, I discovered that one of my latest graph visualizations was added to the BIG BANG DATA exhibition:

Red de co-ocurrencias de palabras claves en las telenotícies de TV3 en 2013

Pablo Aragón, researcher at Barcelona Media; David Cabo, director at Civio; Eva Belmonte, project manager at Civio.

Dataset description
20 786 news extracted from a database given by Televisió de Catalunya which contains news published in 2013. The dataset was requested by Olga Subirós and José Luis de Vicente, curators of the BIG BANG DATA exhibition.

Graph details
4 624 nodes (keywords) and 29 381 edges (co-occurrences) between them.

Type of graph
Semantic Network (reference: Visual Complexity)


BIG BANG DATA exhitibion at CCCB; directed by Zzzinc.

May 23-24, 2014

Co-keywords graph from a set of 20 786 news published by TV3 (2013). We removed the nodes whose degree was equal or less than 1 and the following parameters were set for each node:

  • Size → PageRank
  • Color → Cluster assigned by the the Louvain clustering method
  • Location → Position set by the OpenOrd layout algorithm


The graph was implemented during the hackaton runned by Civio focused on their platform Quien Manda: a map of political and economic power in Spain, presented as an interactive, graphical and documented repository of all ties between the most influential people in the country. From this hackaton, we devised new ideas and projects that, hopefully, will be announced soon.


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