Category: show in team updates

June 29-30: DATACTIVE final event

We are nearing the end of the ERC-funded DATACTIVE project and we have many accomplishments to celebrate!

For almost six years now, we have worked together to investigate the complex and multifaceted field of data activist imaginaries and practices. We have had a wonderful time bringing together academics, practitioners, hackers and artists from around the world. We have engaged in numerous interviews, focus groups, participant observation of activist events, and we have even developed our own open-source tools to support our research. Together, we have traced the evolution of a global network of data activists and tried to figure out how institutions are reacting to their mobilization. We have explored the various ways in which publics engage with surveillance regimes and how notions of risk articulate strategies to resist it. We have shed light on the workings of the algorithms that power big tech platforms and located how human rights considerations painstakingly make their way into the infrastructure of the internet. With the inception of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have also devoted our attention to the politics of counting in the first pandemic in a datafied society, the inherent forms of exclusion and the risks of techno-solutionism.

Throughout these six years, the ‘we’ of DATACTIVE has been neither static nor stable. DATACTIVE has been home to no less than 26 people in its core team, plus the many other research associates, interns, and collaborators who visited for period of time and enriched our work with their expertise and unique contributions.

Although the project is coming to an end, we are well aware that our work is not done. We will take our data-activist approach to research to other venues and groups, and continue asking critical questions wherever we will land.

But it is now time for thanks and celebrations! Please join us on Tuesday the 29th of June 2021 for the DATACTIVE closing event entitled DATA ACTIVISM FUTURES, to celebrate looking back and ponder about the future. We have our Principal Investigator Stefania Milan reflecting on five years of data activism, after which the PhD candidates will take central stage. Becky Kazansky will shed light on threat modelling within civil society and grassroots resistance to surveillance, Guillén Torres will present his work on institutional resistance to transparency efforts by citizens, and Niels ten Oever will take us through the politics of infrastructure. Guest speakers include Maxigas (University of Amsterdam), Fieke Jansen (Data Justice Lab, Cardiff University), Claudio (Algorithms Exposed), and Svitlana Matviyenko (Digital Democracies Institute). Davide Beraldo will engage in a discussion with artists Joana Moll, Manu Luksch, Viola van Alphen, Karla Zavala and Adriaan Odenzaal about how art can contribute to the data activism agenda by fostering critical data literacy

The DATACTIVE final event will be followed by a public roundtable discussion on ART AS DATA ACTIVISM scheduled on the next day, Wednesday the 30th of June 2021. Note that each event has its own separate registration process. Find more details below!


June 29th 13.00-17.30 CEST
The event is broadcasted live from Engage! TV studios and will takes place online. Sign up HERE


13.00-13.30 5 years of contentious politics of data: What changed? Stefania Milan in conversation with Lonneke van der Velden
13.30-13.40 Launch of DATACTIVE video pills
13.40-14.00 PhD projects pitches: Data activism as a form of…
14.00-14.40 Breakout rooms: Extended PhD presentations + Q&A
Data activism as form of:
1. Institutional resistance (Guillen Torres)
2. Resistance to surveillance (Becky Kazansky)
3. Politics of infrastructure (Niels ten Oever)


15.00-15.35 Art as data activism: A conversation featuring Joana Moll, Manu Luksch, ☕️ internet teapot l design & research studio (Karla Zavala & Adriaan Odenzaal), and Viola van Alphen. Moderated by Davide Beraldo
15.35-16.30 Research futures for data activism: A fishbowl discussion with practitioners, featuring Maxigas, Fieke Jansen, Claudio Agosti and Sanne Stevens
16.30-17.00 Data activism futures: Closing remarks. Stefania Milan in conversation with Linnet Taylor
17.00 Thank you & festive moment. Keep your favorite drink at hand!


From DATACTIVE: [Speakers] Stefania Milan (Associate Professor of New Media and Digital Culture, University of Amsterdam), Guillen Torres (PhD at DATACTIVE, University of Amsterdam), Niels ten Oever (former PhD at DATACTIVE, now postdoctoral researcher at IN-SIGHT, University of Amsterdam), Becky Kazansky (PhD at DATACTIVE, University of Amsterdam). [Moderators] Lonneke van der Velden (DATACTIVE, Assistant Professor Global Digital Cultures at the University of Amsterdam), Davide Beraldo (Senior Lecturer and postdoctoral researcher at DATACTIVE, University of Amsterdam) & Niels ten Oever. [Co-organiser] Jeroen de Vos (DATACTIVE Project Manager, University of Amsterdam).

Guest speakers: Linnet Taylor (Global Data Justice, Tilburg University), Maxigas (People’s 5G Lab, University of Amsterdam), Fieke Jansen (DATA JUSTICE, Cardiff University), Claudio Agosti (Algorithms Exposed), Sanne Stevens (Justice, Equity and Technology Table), Joana Moll (Barcelona/Berlin based artist and researcher, Universität Potsdam and Escola Elisava), Manu Luksch (Artist in Residence at The School of Law, Birkbeck, University of London), Karla Zavala & Adriaan Odenzaal (☕️ internet teapot l design & research studio), and Viola van Alphen (Creative Director and Curator Manifestations@Dutch Design Week. Art, Tech, and Fun!).


June 30th 17.00-18.30 CEST
The event is hosted by Spui25 and takes place online. Sign up HERE

Art as form of political engagement is a proven formula, but what about art as form of data activism? Can art help us better understand and question the politics of everyday data flows? In the current context of datafication -the turning of every aspect of our lives into data points for further processing — artistic practice offers diverse ways to foster public engagement with data. From the early examples of the Net.Art movement to more recent artistic interrogations of automated decision making systems, the speakers in this panel will offer different perspectives on the role of art in questioning the power asymmetries created as a result of the use of data by governments, corporations and platforms.

Speakers: Manu Luksch (Artist in Residence at The School of Law, Birkbeck, University of London) Karla Zavala & Adriaan Odenzaal (☕️ internet teapot l design & research studio), and Viola van Alphen (Creative Director and Curator Manifestations@Dutch Design Week. Art, Tech, and Fun!).

Moderator: Lonneke van der Velden (DATACTIVE and Assistant Professor Global Digital Cultures at the University of Amsterdam)


Niels’ research featured in the New York Times

TL;DR: have a look at the piece in the New York Times that covers Niels’ work.

During the research Niels did for datactive, which culminated in his thesis and a recent paper in New Media & Society, he actively participated in the Internet Engineering Taskforce (IETF). The IETF is one of the main standards and governance bodies of the Internet. While working there Niels’ worked together with others such as Mallory Knodel and Corinne Cath, on addressing exclusionary language in technical standards. An important part of that work was publishing this document, which sparked an extensive discussion in the IETF that up to today has not been resolved. You can read more about it in the New York Times piece.

Stefania at the presentation of the book ‘Lives of Data. Essays on Computational Cultures from India’

On February 19th, 5pm Indian time (12.30 CET) Stefania will join the presentation of the book ‘Lives of Data. Essays on Computational Cultures from India’, edited by Sandeep Mertia and published by the Institute of Network Cultures (2020). The volume is open access and can be downloaded from this link.

Lives of Data is based on research projects and workshops at the Sarai programme of CSDS. The book brings together fifteen interdisciplinary scholars and practitioners to open up inquiries into computational cultures in India. Encompassing history, anthropology, science and technology studies (STS), media studies, civic technology, data science, digital humanities and journalism, the essays open up possibilities for a cross disciplinary dialogue on data. Lives of Data is an open access publication from the Institute of Network Cultures Amsterdam in collaboration with the Sarai programme of the CSDS.

Sandeep Mertia is a PhD Candidate at the Department of Media, Culture, and Communication, and Urban Doctoral Fellow, New York City.

Jahnavi Phalkey is Founding Director of Science Gallery, Bengaluru.

Stefania Milan is Associate Professor of New Media, University of Amsterdam.

Nimmi Rangaswamy is Associate Professor at IIIT and Adjunct Professor at IIT, both at Hyderabad.

Ravi Sundaram is Professor at Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi.

The discussion will be held on Zoom


Meeting ID: 991 2507 4788

Passcode: csdsdelhi

The full invite can be found here.


Stefania on ‘Tech-Based States of Emergency’ (PRIO, January 27)

On January the 27th, Stefania will contribute to the event ‘Tech-Based States of Emergency: Public Responses and Societal implications’ organised by the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO). She will join Brenda Jimris-Rekve (Basic Internet Foundation) and Sean Boots (Canadian Digital Services) as speakers, with Maria Gabrielsen Jumbert and Kristoffer Lidén from PRIO as moderator and an introduction by Bruno Oliveira Martins (PRIO), project leader of “States of Emergency as Disruptive Pandemic Politics”. As this is a virtual event, you can register to attend following this link.

Event description: Tech-Based States of Emergency: Public Responses and Societal implications

A one-in-a-century pandemic challenges global stability, threatening the lives of millions and the economic well-being of most countries on earth. Many states are invoking state of emergencies as the world collectively faces the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. States have relied on technologies to help mitigate the spread of the disease by deploying the use of metadata analysis, geolocation tracking, facial recognition screening and drones. But the resort to tech-based solutions to a complex social problem raises new questions that demand public and societal scrutiny.

Niels and Stefania at Privacy Camp

On January the 26th, Niels ten Oever and Stefania Milan will partake in the annual appointment of the Privacy Camp, this time round however only in virtual format.

Both will feature in the panel “Wiring digital justice: Embedding rights in Internet governance ‘by infrastructure’” (12.05-13), where Niels is a speaker and Stefania co-moderates together with Francesca Musiani (CNRS Paris). Know more about topic and speaker line-up. Niels and Francesca are also the organisers of the session.

Later in the day, Stefania will contribute to the panel “Reclaim Your Face, Reclaim Your Space: resisting the criminalisation of public spaces under biometric mass surveillance” (14.05-15), organised by Ella Jakubowska (European Digital Rights). Further details can be found here.


Talking media literacy, Jeroen @DikkeDataShow to discuss TikTok personalisation algorithm

Our own Jeroen de Vos starred in the first episode of the new VRPO series ‘de dikke data show’ (the thick data show). Each episode looking into another aspect of digital culture trying to explain and increase literacy tailored to a younger audience. Jeroen was invited to explain personalisation algorithms functioning on TikTok, with the work of Algorithms Exposed being the backbone to a small experiment to look into this algorithm.

Find the episode here (in Dutch)

About the episode: Who decides whether you go viral on TikTok? Jard Struik and media scholar Jeroen de Vos discover what an algorithm is and how that algorithm determines which videos you see. What is the downside of this invisible regulator? Together with successful and well-known TikTokkers such as Lorenzo Dinatelle, Emma Keuven and Bo Beljaars, he checks whether the algorithm really knows us that well. And Jard also dresses up as an e-boy to increase the chance of going viral.


DATACTIVE 2020 year-in-review

2020 has been an intense year under many points of view. As you know, the DATACTIVE project was supposed to end in August 2020, but due to COVID-19 we negotiated a so-called no-cost extension with our funder, the European Research Council, which extended the life span of the project until June 30th, 2021.

Over these months, we have kept busy despite the many uncertainties and logistical problems imposed by the pandemic. We would love to share the good news and our main accomplishments, together with our best wishes for the new year.

What are we most proud of? The first of the four DATACTIVE PhD students successfully defended his PhD in October 2020! The dissertation, entitled ‘Wired Norms: Inscription, resistance, and subversion in the governance of the Internet infrastructure’, can be found here [0]. Watch out for the other PhD candidates…

We gave many talks, mostly on Zoom!  But we also managed to host the workshop ‘Contentious Data: The Social Movement Society in the Age of Datafication’, organized by Davide Beraldo and Stefania on November 12-13 2020 and contributing towards the Special Issue of the same title, in preparation for the journal Social Movement Studies.

We completed data collection and analysis of over 250 interviews with civil society actors from all corners of the globe. Our developer Christo have finalized (and will soon release in GitHub) an open-source infrastructure that allows to collaboratively analyze and manage qualitative data outside the corporate environment of mainstream data analysis software and safeguarding the privacy and safety of our informants. We are now busy making sense of all these beautiful ‘thick’ data and writing up articles and chapters.

Stefania has been particularly busy with the spin-off blog of the Big Data from the South Research Initiative, dedicated to exploring the first pandemic of the datafied society seen from… communities and individuals left at the margins of media coverage, public concern and government response. You can access the many contributions published since May in COVID-19 from the Margins [1]. We are happy to announce that the blog resulted in an open-access multilingual book edited by Stefania, Emiliano Treré and Silvia Masiero for the Amsterdam-based Institute of Network Culture. The book will be released in both digital and printed form in January 2021. Book your copy if you want to receive one!

Collectively, we published four articles and three book chapters, listed below. Four articles—for New Media & Society, Globalization, and Big Data & Society, will be released in early 2021, alongside three book chapters. A co-edited special issue on media innovation and social change has been released in early 2020, while three co-edited special issues, respectively for the peer-reviewed international journals Internet Policy Review, Social Movement Studies and Palabra Clave, are in the working and will be released in the course of 2021.

Many people worked in the background alongside with PI Stefania, in particular our tireless project manager Jeroen de Vos, our developer Christo, our PhD candidates Guillén Torres and Niels ten Oever, and postdoc Davide Beraldo and to them goes our gratitude.

We wish you happy holidays and a peaceful and healthy 2021!

Best regards, Stefania for the DATACTIVE team




ten Oever, Niels. (2020). Wired Norms: Inscription, resistance, and subversion in the governance of the Internet infrastructure. Ph.D thesis, University of Amsterdam


Milan, S., & Treré, E. (2020). The rise of the data poor: The COVID-19 pandemic seen from the margins. Social Media + Society, July.

Milan, S., & Barbosa, S. (2020). Enter the WhatsApper: Reinventing digital activism at the time of chat apps. First Monday, 25(1).

Tanczer, L. M., Deibert, R. J., Bigo, D., Franklin, M. I., Melgaço, L., Lyon, D., Kazansky, B., & Milan, S. (2020). Online Surveillance, Censorship, and Encryption in Academia. International Studies Perspectives, 21(1), 1–36.

Milan, S. (2020). Techno-solutionism and the standard human in the making of the COVID-19 pandemic. Big Data & Society.


Ni Bhroin, N., & Milan, S. (Eds.). (2020). Special issue: Media Innovation and Social Change. Journal of Media Innovations, 6(1).


ten Oever, N., Milan, S., & Beraldo, D. (2020). Studying Discourse in Internet Governance through Mailing-list Analysis. In D. L. Cogburn, L. DeNardis, N. S. Levinson, & F. Musiani (Eds.), Research Methods in Internet Governance (pp. 213–229). MIT Press.

Milan, S. (2020a). Big Data. In B. Blaagaard, L. Pérez-González, & M. Baker (Eds.), Routledge Encyclopedia of Citizen Media (pp. 37–42). Routledge.

Milan, S., & Treré, E. (2020b). Una brecha de datos cada vez mayor: La Covid-19 y el Sur Global. In B. M. Bringel & G. Pleyers (Eds.), Alerta global. Políticas, movimientos sociales y futuros en disputa en tiempos de pandemia (pp. 95–100). CLACSO and ALAS.


Milan, S., & Treré, E. (2020c, April 3). A widening data divide: COVID-19 and the Global South. OpenDemocracy.

ten Oever, Niels. (2020). ‘Cybernetica, dataficatie en surveillance in de polder‘ in: Ni Dieu, Ni Maitre. Festschrift for Ruud Kaulingfrek. Waardenwerk, Journal for Humanistic Studies, SWP.

Di Salvo, P., & Milan, S. (2020, April 24). I quattro nemici (quasi) invisibili nella prima pandemia dell’era della società dei dati. Il Manifesto.

Milan, S., & Di Salvo, P. (2020, June 8). Four invisible enemies in the first pandemic of a “datafied society.” Open Democracy.

Milan, S., Pelizza, A., & Lausberg, Y. (2020, April 28). Making migrants visible to COVID-19 counting: The dilemma. OpenDemocracy.

Pelizza, A., Lausberg, Y., & Milan, S. (2020, maggio). Come e perché rendere visibili i migranti nei dati della pandemia. Internazionale.



Milan, S., Treré, E., & Masiero, S. (2021). COVID-19 from the Margins: Pandemic Invisibilities, Policies and Resistance in the Datafied Society. Institute for Networked Cultures.


Kazansky B (2021). “It depends on your threat model”: Understanding the anticipatory dimensions of resistance to datafication harms. Big Data & Society.

Kazansky, B., & Milan, S. (2021). Bodies Not Templates: Contesting Mainstream Algorithmic Imaginaries. New Media & Society.

ten Oever, N. (2021). ‘This is not how we imagined it’ – Technological Affordances, Economic Drivers and the Internet Architecture Imaginary. New Media & Society.

ten Oever, Niels (2021). Norm conflict in the governance of transnational and distributed i­nfrastructures: the case of Internet routing. Globalizations.


Milan, S., & Treré, E. (2021). Big Data From the South(s): An Analytical Matrix to Investigate Data at the Margins. In D. Rohlinger & S. Sobieraj (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Sociology and Digital Media. Oxford University Press.

Milan, S., & Treré, E. (2021). Latin American visions for a Digital New Deal: Learning from critical ecology, liberation pedagogy and autonomous design. In IT for Change (Ed.), Digital New Deal. IT for Change.

ten Oever, Niels. 2021. ‘The metagovernance of internet governance’. In eds. B. Haggart, N. Tusikov, and J.A. Scholte, Power and Authority in Internet Governance: Return of the State?. Routeledge Global Cooperation Series


Three special issues we are very excited about

Milan, S., Beraldo, D., & Flesher Fominaya, C. Contentious Data: The Social Movement Society in the Age of Datafication, Social Movement Studies

Treré, E., & Milan, S., Latin American Perspectives on Datafication and Artificial Intelligence, Palabra Clave

Burri, M., Irion, K, Milan, S.& Kolk, A. Governing European values inside data flows, Internet Policy Review


Beraldo, D. (2020). Movements as multiplicities and contentious branding: lessons from the digital exploration of# Occupy and# Anonymous, Information, Communication & Society, DOI: 10.1080/1369118X.2020.1847164

Grover, G., & ten Oever, N. (2021). Guidelines for Human Rights Protocol and Architecture Considerations, RFC-series, Internet Research Taskforce.

Knodel, Mallory., Uhlig, Ulrike., ten Oever, Niels., Cath, Corinne. (2020) How the Internet Really Works: An Illustrated Guide to Protocols, Privacy, Censorship, and Governance. No Starch Press, San Francisco, United States.

Milan, C., & Milan, S. (2020). Fighting Gentrification from the Boxing Ring: How Community Gyms reclaim the Right to the City. Social Movement Studies.

Stefania’s talks in November-December 2020

In November-December, DATACTIVE PI Stefania Milan will participate in a number of public events where DATACTIVE will variably feature.

In November:

  • Internet Governance Forum (3 November)
  • FallingWalls Fireside chat (6 November)
  • Jean Monnet Network
  • Wagening workshop (9 and 16 November )
  • ASCA Summit (24 November)

In December:

  • Roundtable “AI and Bias in Translation”, organised by the Goethe-Institut (2 December)
  • “Stories of the pandemic: voices and data from communities and the South”, part of the Speaker Series of the Institute for Media and Creative Industries at Loughborough University London (3 December). Stefania will join Vinod Pavarala (University of Hderabad, India) and Emiliano Treré (Cardiff University, UK) in a two-hour discussion on the role of community media during the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Digital methods for social change” workshops for the Swedish International Centre for Local Democracy (15-15 December)

28th at 14:00 PhD defence Niels ten Oever: How to align the Internet infrastructures with human rights?

On October 28th at 14:00, Niels ten Oever will defend his dissertation titled ‘Wired Norms: Inscription, resistance, and subversion in the governance of the Internet infrastructure’. In his dissertation Niels analyzes the governance of the Internet infrastructure and the role norms play in it. While the governance of earlier information networks, such as the telephone and the telegraph, was done by nation states, the Internet is governed in so-called private multistakeholder bodies. This research analyzes how social and legal norms evolve, are introduced, subverted, and resisted by participants in Internet governance processes in order to develop policies, technologies, and standards to produce an interconnected Internet. The research leverages notions and insights from science and technology studies and international relations and combines quantitative and qualitative methods to show that the private multistakeholder Internet governance regime is designed and optimized for the narrow and limited role of increasing interconnection. As a result, the governance regime resists aligning Internet infrastructure with social or legal norms that might limit or hamper increasing interconnection.

The defense will be streamed online on October 28th at 14:00 – you can find the URL by then on Niels’ twitter account: – you can find his PhD dissertation and his other writings on his website: