This is our blog. Here we share news about the DATACTIVE team, events we host and organise, as well as updates on our regular lecture series.


YouTube Algorithm Exposed: DMI Summer School project week 1

July 19, 2019

DATACTIVE participated in the first week of the Digital Methods Initiative summer school 2019 with a data sprint related to the side project ALEX. DATACTIVE’s insiders Davide and Jeroen, together with research associate and ALEX’s software developer Claudio Agosti, pitched a project aimed at exploring the logic of YouTube’s recommendation algorithm, using the ALEX-related browser extension … Read more


Lonneke interviewed by

June 8, 2019

Today it is 70 years ago that the book 1984 by George Orwell was published. I was interviewed by about the relevance of 1984 for today’s society. (The piece is in Dutch: ‘Zeventig jaar na 1984: Zo actueel is de roman van George Orwell.’) Image by Gordon Johnson from … Read more


Stefania at the Summer School on Methods for the Study of Political Participation and Mobilization, Florence

June 2, 2019

On June 4, Stefania gives a lecture on ethical issues in social movement and political participation research at the Summer School on Methods for the Study of Political Participation and Mobilization, in Florence, Italy. The school is organised by the ECPR Standing Group on Participation and Mobilization and the Dipartimento … Read more


fbTREX reaction to Facebook collaboration

May 14, 2019

Research associate Claudio Agosti argues the need for independent critical research in a reaction to the news that Facebook is opening its door to scholars for academic research. The statement on the EU19 tracking exposed project website portrays why academic research should not be delimited by corporate conditions for research only;  we should … Read more


Lonneke at Amsterdam Law Forum Conference

May 10, 2019

Lonneke is presenting on data activism and Open Source Investigations in a panel on Law & Technology. It is at the 2019 Amsterdam Law Forum  Annual Conference on Technology & International Law at the VU university. Afterwards there is a panel on ‘The Facts of Emerging Technologies’.


Constructing Technological Sovereignty

April 4, 2019

By Lonneke van der Velden, DATACTIVE    A couple of weeks, ago a part of the DATACTIVE team attended the book launch of the Dutch translation of ‘Technological Sovereignty’ at the Hackerspace TechInc in Amsterdam. The main talk at the book launch was given by one of the authors of the book, … Read more


HTTP workshop hosted by DATACTIVE

April 1, 2019

This week, the fourth HTTP Workshop is taking place in Amsterdam, hosted by DATACTIVE in the University of Amsterdam. This event gathers people who work on and use the Web’s protocol to talk about how it’s working, what needs improving and where it might go in the future. As such, … Read more


Subversion in Vienna

March 21, 2019

Niels ten Oever held a talk on the subversion of equality and freedom of users in the Internet architecture at the Privacy and Sustainable Computing Lab of the Vienna University of Economics and Business. The talk built on a mixed methods analysis of the Internet architecture and its technical governance, … Read more


Thinking global while also acting local: DATACTIVE and the Amsterdam digital agenda

March 21, 2019

The municipality of Amsterdam published its Digital Agenda in which it presents its ambitions to become a free, inclusive, and creative digital city. Amsterdam is grounding its ambitions on the early experiences with networking technology in the Netherlands, after which the agenda was called: The Digital City (De Digitale Stad). … Read more


#JustPublished! “Accounting for power in transnational civic tech activism (…)” by Kersti Wissenbach

March 13, 2019

Fresh from the DATACTIVE press: Kersti Wissenbach introduces the concept of ‘acting within’ to contemporary media practice approaches on the intersection of communication and social movement studies. She argues for the need to take distance from pre-assigned indications of exclusion and builds on the de-westernisation discourse of communication scholarship in … Read more


Open Source Intelligence

March 11, 2019

Lonneke presented preliminary work on Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) at the Amsterdam Platform for Privacy Research meeting. It is part of an ongoing study into how OSINT takes place “in the public” by citizen journalists and activists, what kind of methods are being used, and what kind of epistemologies play … Read more


[bigdatasur] Jitihada La Ughaibu Afrika

February 1, 2019

By Duncan Kinuthia, Ford/Media Democracy Fund Tech Exchange Fellow at Research ICT Africa >>> if your Swahili is not good enough, check out the English translation! <<< Watumizi wa mtandao Afrika wanazidi kuongezeka katika kusaka ughaibu kwenye mtandao. Hii imehamasishwa na ripoti za hivi majuzi za ukiukaji wa uaminifu na faragha wa … Read more


[BigDataSur] The African quest for anonymization

January 14, 2019

The key objective of the research project is to shed light on the practice of using VPN as a data anonymization tool in Eastern Africa, by both individual users and for non-profit organizations (NPO).


Announcing the Magma project

January 8, 2019

By Vasilis Ververis, DATACTIVE Magma aims to build a scalable, reproducible, standard methodology on measuring, documenting and circumventing internet censorship, information controls, internet blackouts and surveillance in a way that will be streamlined and used in practice by researchers, front-line activists, field-workers, human rights defenders, organizations and journalists. In recent years, … Read more


A year in review

January 2, 2019

2018 has been a good year for DATACTIVE. We take the opportunity of the turn of the year to review what we accomplished and what remains to do. We advanced with data collection, and are almost done. Just to mention one, we are close to 200 interviews, and the material is extremely rich. We organized two … Read more


Civic resistance to environmental failures from the South (of the North…): The AnalyzeBasilicata initiative

December 14, 2018

By Anna Berti Suman – Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology, and Society (TILT)   During the Workshop ‘Big Data from the South: Towards a Research Agenda’, we discussed how the ‘South’ is much more than a geographical connotation. The South exists every time a person is discriminated, basic services are denied, … Read more


[BigDataSur] Challenges and opportunities of studying big data in the Global South

December 3, 2018

What are the challenges and opportunities of studying big data in the Global South? @lauramahrenbach and @katjamat examine the policy visions of big data in #Brazil, #India and #China and how we can improve understanding of them


Lonneke on Open Sourcing Open Source Intelligence

November 1, 2018

In late September, I gave a talk in which she considered the connections between Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) and data activism at the ‘DIGITAL CULTURES: Knowledge / Culture / Technology’ conference at Leuphana University Lüneburg. The presentation asked how OSINT might be understood through the prism of ‘data activist epistemologies’ … Read more


26 October: Noortje Marres and DATACTIVE in conversation on the social science scene today

October 22, 2018

On 26 October, DATACTIVE hosts the philosopher and science studies scholar Noortje Marres to discuss and problematize the role of social science today.  The DATACTIVE team will engage with Marres to discuss chapters of her book Digital Sociology: The Reinvention of Social Research. The exchange is expected to delve into … Read more


Organization After Social Media: orgnets and alternative socio-technical infrastructures

October 21, 2018

by Lonneke van der Velden Last month, I was invited to be a respondent (together with Harriet Bergman) for the launch of Geert Lovink and Ned Rossiter’s latest book, Organization After Social Media. The book is a collection of essays which re-interrogate the concerns and contributions of social movements and … Read more


DATACTIVE supports WOinActie

September 27, 2018

DATACTIVE joins WOinActie’s week of protest and wants to publicly manifest its support to the struggle of students and staff. We stand against budget cuts, overwhelming workloads, and the neoliberalization of education. We demand adequate funding, less pressure on teachers and students and a model of university that privileges critical … Read more


Why we won’t be at APC 2018

September 19, 2018

In October 2018, the Amsterdam Privacy Conference (APC) will be back at the University of Amsterdam. Two DATACTIVE project team members, Stefania (Principal Investigator), and Becky (PhD candidate), enthusiastically supported the conference as coordinators of the ‘Digital Society and Surveillance’ theme. The Data Justice Lab at Cardiff University submitted a panel proposal, which was successfully included. Regretfully, neither will take part in the conference: … Read more


Data Colonialism – the first article of the Special Issue on “Big Data from the South” is out

September 14, 2018

Nick Couldry and Ulisse A. Mejias re-frame the Data from the South debate within the context of modern day colonialism: data colonialism; an alarming stage where human life is “appropriated through data” and life is, eventually, “capitalized without limit”. This essay marks the beginning of a series of articles under a … Read more


Welcome to DATACTIVE’s spinoff ALEX! An interview with fbtrex Lead Developer Claudio Agosti

September 10, 2018

by Tu Quynh Hoang and Stefania Milan DATACTIVE is proud to announce that its spin-off ALEX project has been awarded a Proof of Concept grant of the European Research Council. ALEX, which stands in for “ALgorithms Exposed (ALEX). Investigating Automated Personalization and Filtering for Research and Activism”, aims at unmasking the … Read more


BigBang v0.2.0 ‘Tulip Revolution’ released

July 17, 2018

DATACTIVE has been collaborating with researchers from New York University and the University of California at Berkeley to release version 0.2.0 of the quantitative mailinglists analysis software BigBang. Mailinglists are among the most widely used communication tools in Internet Governance institutions and among software developers. Therefore mailinglists lend themselves really … Read more


[blog] Growth for Critical Studies? Social scholars, let’s be shrewder

July 17, 2018

Author: Miren Gutierrez This is a response the call for a critical community studies  ‘Tech, data and social change: A plea for cross-disciplinary engagement, historical memory, and … Critical Community Studies‘ by Kersti Wissenbach and the first contribution to the debate  ‘Can We Plan Slow – But Steady – Growth … Read more


[blog] Making ‘community’ critical: Tech collectives through the prism of power

July 2, 2018

Author: Fabien Cante In her recent blog post, Kersti Wissenbach expresses her frustration with the field of “civic tech,” which, as she puts it, remains far more focused on the “tech” than the “civic.” This resonates with me in many ways. I write as someone who is possibly more of … Read more


[blog] Data by citizens for citizens

June 5, 2018

Author: Miren Gutierrez In spite of what we know about how big data are employed to spy on us, manipulate us, lie to us and control us, there are still people who get excited by hype-generating narratives around social media influence, machine learning and business insights. At the other end of … Read more


[blog] Can We Plan Slow – But Steady – Growth for Critical Studies?

May 3, 2018

Author: Charlotte Ryan (University of Massachusetts, Lowell/Movement-Media Research Action Project), member of the DATACTIVE ethics board. This is a response post to the blog ‘Tech, data and social change: A plea for cross-disciplinary engagement, historical memory, and … Critical Community Studies‘ written by Kersti Wissenbach. To maximize technologies’ value in … Read more


[blog] #Data4Good, Part II: A necessary debate

April 25, 2018

By Miren Gutiérrez* In the context of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, fake news, the use of personal data for propagandistic purposes and mass surveillance, the Postgraduate Programme “Data analysis, research and communication” proposed a singular debate on how the (big) data infrastructure and other technologies can serve to improve people’s lives … Read more


Para exercer plenamente a cidadania, é preciso conhecer os filtros virtuais (Época Negócios)

April 11, 2018

Stefania was commissioned an article by the Brazilian business magazine Época Negócios. In sum, she argues that “estar ciente dos elementos que moldam profundamente nossos universos de informação é um passo fundamental para deixarmos de ser prisioneiros da internet”. Continue reading the article in Portuguese online. Here you can read the original … Read more


[blog] Critical reflections on FAT* 2018: a historical idealist perspective

April 11, 2018

Author: Sebastian Benthall, Research Scientist at NYU Steinhardt and PhD Candidate UC Berkeley School of Information. In February, 2018, the inaugural 2018 FAT* conference was held in New York City: The FAT* Conference 2018 is a two-day event that brings together researchers and practitioners interested in fairness, accountability, and transparency in … Read more


[blog] Cloud communities and the materiality of the digital (GLOBALCIT project, EUI)

April 4, 2018

This invited blog post originally appeared in the forum ‘Cloud Communities: The Dawn of Global Citizenship?’ of the GLOBALCIT project (European University Institute). It is part of an interesting multidisciplinary conversation accessible from the GLOBALCIT website. I wish to thank Rainer Baubock and Liav Orgad for the invitation to contribute to the debate.  … Read more


[blog] Tech, data and social change: A plea for cross-disciplinary engagement, historical memory, and … Critical Community Studies

March 29, 2018

Kersti R. Wissenbach | March 2018 It has been a while since I first got my feet into the universe of technology and socio-political change. Back then, coming from a critical development studies and communication science background, I was fascinated by the role community radio could play in fostering dialogue … Read more


[blog] Facebook newsfeed changes: Three hypotheses to look into the future

March 27, 2018

Image: Vincenzo Cosenza In this blog post, DATACTIVE research associate Antonio Martella is looking forward to the consequences of Facebook’s news feed modifications as result of larger corporate policy changes. He investigates and discusses implications through three hypotheses: 1) the divide between the attention-rich and the attention poor will grow … Read more


BigBang hackaton in London, March 17-18

March 16, 2018

This weekend the DATACTIVE team will be joining the IETF101 hackathon to work on quantitative mailing-list analysis software. The Internet Engineering Taskforce (IETF) is the oldest and most important Internet standard setting body. The discussions and decisions of the IETF have fundamentally shaped the Internet. All IETF mailing-lists and output documents are publicly available. They represent … Read more


[blog] Internet Archive and Hacker Ethics: Answers to datafication from the hacktivist world

February 23, 2018

Guest author: Silvia Semenzin This blogpost looks into the Internet Archive as a case-study to discuss hacktivism as a form of resistance to instances of control on the Internet and the use of data for political and commercial purposes. It argues hacktivism should not only be considered a social movement, … Read more


Big Data from the South: The beginning of a conversation we must have

October 16, 2017

by Stefania Milan and Emiliano Treré On July 15, 2017 in Cartagena, Colombia, about fifty between academics and activists got together to imagine how ‘Big Data from the South’ would look like. Organized with little resources and much enthusiasm by the two of us* and preceding the annual IAMCR conference … Read more


[blog] Hopes and Fears at SHA2017

August 29, 2017

Authors: Davide & Jeroen A few weeks ago, a contingent of the DATACTIVE team attended SHA (Still Hacking Anyway), the periodic worldwide hacker camp hosted in the Netherlands. The great variety of people hanging around included IT pen-testers, system administrators, activists, developers, advocacy groups, journalists -and, of course, hackers. Around … Read more


[blog] Big Data and Civil Society: Researching the researchers

July 3, 2017

In March-May 2017, I had the opportunity to join the DATACTIVE project as a research trainee, at the Media Studies Department of the University of Amsterdam. I first met the DATACTIVE team during the 2015 Winter School of the Digital Method Initiative (also at the Media Studies Department, UvA). At … Read more


[blog] Techno-Galactic Software Observatory

June 25, 2017

Author: Lonneke van der Velden   Early June Becky and I participated in the Techno-Galactic Software Observatory, an event organised by Constant, a feminist art and technology collective in Brussels. It was a great event, in which theoretical insights from the philosophy of technology and software studies were combined with practical … Read more


[blog] A RightsCon2017 Post-Mortem: Hot in the digital rights agenda

April 12, 2017

On March 29-31, three brave members of the DATACTIVE team—Davide, Guillen and Stefania, respectively—descended on the lively city of Brussels to attend RightsCon 2017. The RightsCon Summit Series, organized by the US-based non-governmental organization Access Now, is a yearly event bringing together digital rights activists and practitioners with the tech … Read more


[blog] Communication and Activism – a research visit to the Center of Social Movement Studies

April 7, 2017

By Kersti R. Wissenbach, March 2017 This week I returned to the beautiful city of Florence to spend several months with the Centre on Social Movement Studies (COSMOS) located at the Institute of Humanities and Social Science at Scuola Normale Superiore. It is my second visit to the institute and … Read more


[blog] The politics of network graphs

March 22, 2017

Author: Jeroen de Vos, humanities scholar, entrepreneur and research assistant at DATACTIVE. How do the graphs above differ? With their different colors, layouts and visual densities, they seem to each adhere to their own unique network. However, as an image they consist of the same kind of materiality: a network plotted … Read more


[blog] Taking a look at institutional resistance to citizen empowerment

February 10, 2017

By Guillén Torres (Image copyright: Bob Mankoff) To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in July, 2016, ProPublica, a U.S. nonprofit newsroom, published a long essay titled Delayed, Denied, Dismissed: Failures on the FOIA Front, in which several journalists detailed their frustrating experiences when requesting … Read more


New logo – new design!

August 25, 2016

Just in time for the Contentious Data kick-off workshop on September 15, we are happy to announce that DATACTIVE has a new logo! The design is by Federica Bardelli and Carlo De Gaetano, who explain the concept as follows: “A word (DATACTIVE) is a data point that can be encrypted, hidden … Read more


Introducing DATACTIVE

October 8, 2015

We are DATACTIVE, a research project and a research collective exploring the politics of big data broadly defined. We take a critical look at massive data collection, privacy and surveillance | social movements, activism and internet activism | internet infrastructure, cybersecurity and their governance | open data and civic tech … Read more