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.

Spanish Indignados and the evolution of the 15M movement on Twitter: towards networked para-institutions

25 Aug

Source: http://ictlogy.net/20140824-new-paper-spanish-indignados-and-the-evolution-of-the-15m-movement-on-twitter-towards-networked-para-institutions/

20140824_pena-lopez_congosto_aragon_spanish_indignados_twitterMy colleagues Ismael Peña-López, Mariluz Congosto and I just got a paper published. It is the final, improved version of a research that had already been presented thus:

This one paper has been published at the Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies as Spanish Indignados and the evolution of the 15M movement on Twitter: towards networked para-institutions. The paper explains how is it possible that a movement can actually work with a distributed (and ever changing) leadership, and how it ends up looking like an institution on the outside, but as a network on the inside — which we call a para-institution.


The Arab Spring, the Spanish Indignados, the Occupy Wall Street movement, the #YoSoy132 movement, the protests in Istanbul’s Taksim Gezi Park, the Brazilian Spring (#jan25, #arabspring, #15M, #ows, #YoSoy132, #occupyGezi, #vemprarua): in the last three years the world has witnessed the emergence of networked citizen politics. These movements are not institutions, but oftentimes mimic their nature. At the same time, they are unlike traditional citizens’ movements, but very much alike in their decentralized structure. Networked citizen politics, characterized by decentralization, swarm-like action and an intensive use of information and communication technologies have been playing an increasing role in worldwide protests and movements, often overtaking and circumventing the actions of governments, parliaments, political parties, labour unions, non-governmental organizations, mass media and all kinds of formal democratic institutions. Taking the case of Spanish Indignados, we analyse the nature of networked citizen politics as an extra-representational kind of political participation – for instance, the pervasiveness of Twitter’s use in the 15M movement. We begin by characterizing users, including a description of how movements propagate from one to another. Next we explore the bonds between networked citizen movements and formal democratic institutions and how they relate to each other, especially the movements with political parties and mass media. We also examine how networked citizen politics may use tools similar to those of the so-called Politics 2.0 but with very different purposes and, accordingly, the result is of the two conflicting approaches. Our analysis shows that different movements – that is, 15M and 25S – act as a continuum for networked citizen politics that use the Internet as the support for new institutionalisms, and despite the lack of traditional organizations, people, practices and ideas are shared and used as foundations for further action. Nevertheless, there is almost no inter-institutional dialogue, with exceptions being individuals belonging to minor and left-wing parties.

EINS: Plenary meeting & Workshop

13 Jun

IMG_20140613_101732This week, I have attended the 4th plenary meeting of the Network of Excellence in Internet Sciences (EINS), which has taken place at the School of Engineering of Bologna. My relation with this network started in 2012 when I participated in its 1st Summer School. Since then, I became an affiliate of EINS and I’m currently involved in the collaborative project Contropedia, funded by the EINS call “Disruptive ideas for an Internet Science”.

The event also included a workshop where the following topics where discussed:

  • Measuring the Internet
  • Net neutrality
  • Internet governance and IETF protocols after Snowden
  • Virtual community building for privacy
  • How do future/upcoming Internet technologies and Internet based applications affect the way the global society/economy is taking shape?
  • To what extent can/will Internet based technologies and applications reduce the limitations of human sociality traits (of evolutionary origins)
  • Interdisciplinarity in Internet Science: interdisciplinary influences, research methods, and network models and architectures.

Additionally, besides the academic value of the event, it was a perfect scenario to reunite with good friends and colleagues.


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