This year (2016) I intervened at the 4S-EASST Conference with two different presentations:
1. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde IPCC and the Double Logic of International Expertise
See the slides
Markusson, Nils, Tommaso Venturini, Andreas Kaltenbrunner, and David Laniado. 2016. “Contrasting Medium and Genre on Wikipedia to Open up Geoengineering.” Big Data & Society 3(2).
An investigation of the place of geoengineering in public debate through the study of networks of Wikipedia pages.
Jacomy, Mathieu; Girard, Paul; Ooghe-Tabanou, Benjamin; Venturini, Tommaso (2016). Hyphe, a Curation-Oriented Approach to Web Crawling for the Social Sciences. International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media.
A paper and a poster on the functioning of Hyphe, the Web crawler developed by the médialab, and the conceptual principles behind it.
Venturini, T., Munk, A., & Meunier, A. (2016). Data-Sprint: a Public Approach to Digital Research. (C. Lury, P. Clough, M. Michael, R. Fensham, S. Lammes, A. Last, & E. Uprichard, Eds.) Interdisciplinary Research Methods (forthcoming).
This paper is about the politics of transdisciplinarity. Not in the sense of the research politics fostering collaboration across disciplines, but in the stronger sense of transcending disciplinary boundaries to make significant political contributions. In short: it is about the making research public. Also, this chapter is not theoretical: it discusses the role of social sciences in collective life, but only to introduce (through a concrete example) an original transdisciplinary practice, that we call data-sprinting.
Bounegru, L., Venturini, T., Gray, J., & Jacomy, M. (2016). Narrating Networks: Exploring the Affordances of Networks as Storytelling Devices in Journalism. Digital Journalism, (forthcoming).
While the mathematical and analytical capabilities of networks have been extensively studied over the years, in this article we argue that the storytelling affordances of networks have been comparatively neglected. In order to address this we use multimodal analysis to examine the stories that networks evoke in a series of journalism articles. We discuss five different kinds of narrative readings of networks illustrated with analyses of examples from journalism.
Venturini, T., Bounegru, L., Jacomy, M., & Gray, J. (2016). How to Tell Stories with Networks: Exploring the Narrative Affordances of Graphs with the Iliad. In Datafied Society. Amsterdam: University Press (forthcoming).
The preview of the pre-print version of a chapter for the Datafied Society book that I wrote with Liliana Bounegru, Mathieu Jacomy and Jonathan Gray.
It use the network of the characters of Homer’s Iliad to exemplify six different types of stories that can be told about a graph.
An article presenting the work that I have done with the OpenKnowledgeFoundation on the various versions of the UNFCCC COP21 agreement.
On the eve of the UNFCCC COP21, I am proud to introduce our new platform on climate negotiations,
I have worked for more of one year to this platform with the help of the IISD, the médialab of Sciences Po, the LSIR EPFL and the Atelier Iceberg. The platform allows to browse through the contents of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin and contains two interfaces:
– The discover interface providing a few visualizations on the visibility of actors and issues of the UNFCCC negotiations
– The explore interface allowing to ask complex questions such as: “give me all the ENB sections in which AOSIS discuss about Loss and Damage after Warsaw”
More info here: http://www.medialab.sciences-po.fr/?p=3477
My presentation of the Contropedia project at the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, at the occasion of the award of the Erasmus prize to the Wikipedia Community
Jensen, P., Morini, M., Marton, K., Venturini, T., Vespignani, A., Jacomy, M., … Fleury, E. (2016). Detecting global bridges in networks. Network Science.
The identification of nodes occupying important positions in a network structure is crucial for the understanding of the associated real-world system. Usually, betweenness centrality is used to evaluate a node capacity to connect different graph regions. However, we argue here that this measure is not adapted for that task, as it gives equal weight to “local” centers (i.e. nodes of high degree central to a single region) and to “global” bridges, which connect different communities. In this paper we propose a decomposition of betweenness centrality into two terms, one highlighting the local contributions and the other the global ones. We call the latter bridgeness centrality and show that it is capable to specifically spot out global bridges.
Latour, B., Jensen, P., Boullier, D., Grauwin, S., & Venturini, T. (2015). O Todo é Sempre Menor que as Partes: um teste digital acerca das mônadas de Gabriel Tarde. Parágrafo, 2(3).
The Portuguese version of “The Whole is Always Smaller than the Sum of its Part”
Controversy Mapping, a Travel Companion
HDR proposal in media studies (CNU 71), sociology (CNU 19) and computer science (CNU 27)
by Tommaso Venturini (under the Supervision of Pablo Jensen, Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon)
Since my arrival at the médialab of Sciences Po, 6 years ago, my research path has not been straight. Following the projects that I led (EMAPS, MEDEA) and to which I have participated (MACOSPOL, Contropedia, SOURCE, DIME-SHS Web, Politiques de la Terre, AIME…), it has zigzagged through disciplines and traditions and brought me in contact with various epistemic communities, including STS; digital methods; complex network analysis; environmental politics; information design; media studies; natural language processing and more.
In all these encounters, what interested me has been the chance to run experiments, test unusual mixes, try new approaches to the study of collective life. Orthodoxy and faultlessness, I confess, have never been my greatest preoccupations.
Yet, my experiments have not been inconsistent. Traveling far lands, I did not just sightsee. I collected bits and pieces and stitched them together in an ensemble that starts to look (to me at least) more and more coherent. Such coherence, of course, is not straightforward. It is tentative, in progress and, too often, implicit. My HDR thesis provides a much-welcomed occasion to address such coherence explicitly and to do it through a comprehensive account of what Controversy Mapping is to me.
It is CM that brought me to the médialab, it is the course I have been teaching the last 8 years and the approach that supported most of my projects. CM is also a method with a solid tradition and an upward trajectory, increasingly used around the world for teaching and research. Yet, CM still lacks its instruction manual – a text that would distill its unusual brew of STS reflections and digital developments. My HDR thesis is an effort in this direction.
The presentation I gave at the Digital Methods Initiative Summer School for the launch of the book Issue Mapping for an Ageing Europe by Richard Rogers, Natalia Sanchez and Aleksandra Kil.
Venturini, T., Jacomy, M, De Carvalho Pereira, D. Visual Network Analysis (working paper)
The visualization of networks has so far lacked of reflexivity and formalization. Though all network analysis packages propose rich libraries of visualization functions, most literature on networks analysis is still centered on mathematical metrics and does not detail how to read visualized network. We painfully lack the conceptual tools to think about the projection of graphs in the space. This paper means to contribute to such reflection and propose a tentative framework for the visual analysis of networks. To do so we will draw on the visual semiotics of Jacques Bertin (1967) and in particular on three of its variables: positions, size and hue. The papers is divided in three sections, each addressing one of the three variables. Each section will explain how to project one variable on networks and provide guidance on how to make sense of the resulting image.
PLEASE BE AWARE THAT THIS IS A WORKING (NON-FINALIZED) PAPER
Venturini, T., Ricci, D., Mauri, M., Kimbell, L., & Meunier, A. (2015). Designing Controversies and their Publics. Design Issues, 31(3)
Striving to make the intricacy of scientific debate readable for a larger public, controversy mapping is trapped in a classic simplicity/complexity trade-off: how to respect the richness of controversies without designing maps too complicated to be useful? Having worked on the question for almost two years in a project bringing together social scientists and designers (emapsproject.com1), we can now propose a way out of this contradiction and suggest three ways of moving through the simplicity/complexity continuum.
Venturini, T., Munk, A., & Jacomy, M. (2016). Actor-Network VS Network Analysis VS Digital Networks Are We Talking About the Same Networks? In D. Ribes & J. Vertesi (Eds.), DigitalSTS: A Handbook and Fieldguide (forthcoming).
A paper that I wrote with Anders Munk and Mathieu Jacomy for the forthcoming Handbook of Digital STS. It addresses the thorny question of the ambiguity of the word ‘network’
A post I published on the blog of the Sciences Po médialab to present the technique of ‘scientometrics landscape’ that we are using to generate maps of the different meanings of CO2 for the ‘Politique de la Terre’ programme.
In the last decades, a humble chemical molecule has become one of the most important actors of modern collective life. Carbon dioxide, or CO2, is increasingly used as a key marker for politics and economics both at the national and international level. The molecule has thus assumed a variety of different meanings according to who use its name. Chemists, biologists, geologists, soil scientists, physicists, climatologists, they all have different CO2 definitions. And their definitions differ from those of the economists, geo-politicians and NGOs and probably even more from the different representations that public opinion may have of the molecule. Instead of trying to average these definitions, we have tried to make these definitions comparable, using advanced techniques in visual scientometrics to disaggregated the CO2 cycle and transform it into a series of ‘CO2 geo-political maps’.
Borra, E., Weltevrede, E., Ciuccarelli, P., Kaltenbrunner, A., Laniado, D., Magni, G., … Venturini, T. (2015). Societal Controversies in Wikipedia Articles. In Proceedings of the 33rd Annual ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems – CHI ’15 (pp. 193–196). doi:10.1145/2702123.2702436
Collaborative content creation inevitably reaches situations where different points of view lead to conflict. We focus on Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia anyone may edit, where disputes about content in controversial articles often reflect larger societal debates. While Wikipedia has a public edit history and discussion section for every article, the substance of these sections is difficult to phantom for Wikipedia users interested in the development of an article and in locating which topics were most controversial. In this paper we present Contropedia, a tool that augments Wikipedia articles and gives insight into the development of controversial topics. Contropedia uses an efficient language agnostic measure based on the edit history that focuses on wiki links to easily identify which topics within a Wikipedia article have been most controversial and when.
Venturini, T., Jensen, P., & Latour, B. (2015). Fill in the Gap: A New Alliance for Social and Natural Sciences. Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, 18(2), 11.
In the last few years, electronic media brought a revolution in the traceability of social phenomena. As particles in a bubble chamber, social trajectories leave digital trails that can be analyzed to gain a deeper understanding of collective life. To make sense of these traces a renewed collaboration between social and natural scientists is needed. In this paper, we claim that current research strategies based on micro-macro models are unfit to unfold the complexity of collective existence and that the priority should instead be the development of new formal tools to exploit the richness of digital data.
The paper has scored #1 in the most viewed JASSS articles for over 8 weeks!
The conference I gave at the SPRU Freeman Friday Seminars at the University of Sussex on March 27 2015 (stirring quite a bit of controversy…).
In the last few years, our societies have been confronted to a new kind of problems. Our planet – once so vast and unexplored – seems to have shrunk around us constraining our actions with its multiple ecological and economical fragilities. Welcome to the Anthropocene! After centuries spent in trying to rule the world, we suddenly realize how tiny is our kingdom and, as the air fill with CO2, how suffocating is its atmosphere. What’s worse, we find ourselves utterly unprepared to deal with the situation we have created. The more we strive to force the knots we tied, the more they seem to tighten around us. The knots that hold us cannot be slashed, but (and it’s our only hope) they might be untied. The fabric of our natural and social interdependencies is complex, but not impenetrable. And this is where social sciences may help, by hijacking one of the strongest forces of modernization (the proliferation of digital inscriptions) and turning it into a source of understanding. Turning inscriptions into traces, and following them as threads through the maze of collective life, we can try to unfold the complexity of our small world and learn to live with it.
A introduction to the twists and turns of the climate negotiations and to the datasets that can be used to cover them that I gave to a little crowd of data-journalists from several French news outlets.
Venturini, T., Cardon, D., & Cointet, J.-P. (2015). Méthodes digitales: Approches quali/quanti des données numériques – Présentation du numéro spécial. Réseaux, 188, 9. doi:10.3917/res.188.0009
The special issue on digital and quali-quantitative methods that I curated with Jean-Philippe Cointet et Dominique Cardon for the French journal Réseaux.
Day after day new methods appear in the social sciences eroding the classical dichotomy between qualitative and quantitative approaches, circulating between micro and macro, local and global, and allowing researchers to process large amounts of data without sacrificing the thickness of their analysis. These are the experiences gathered in this issue, without exclusion of disciplines, objects or approaches.
A keynote speech I delivered on 20/02/15 at the ‘Digital Practices’ conference organized by the group “digitization in everyday life” of the German Society of Folklore. In the speech, I discuss four misunderstandings often connected to use of digital traces:
1. Digital traces are not social data
2. Quantity counts less than variety
3. Digital does not mean automatic
4. More quantification demands more qualification
I also try to show than when these misunderstandings are avoided, digital methods can renew the vision of social sciences and help them to overcome the classic divide between qualitative and quantitative methods.
A conference I gave at the Kings’s College doctoral school with Mathieu Jacomy on the notion of social border and the advantage of adding continuity in social research through digital navigation.
An open access peer-reviewed scholarly journal on digital methods in the social sciences whose editorial board I sit in. Big Data and Society moves beyond usual notions of Big Data and treats it as an emerging field of practices that is not defined by but generative of (sometimes) novel data qualities such as high volume and granularity and complex analytics such as data linking and mining. It thus attends to digital content generated through online and offline practices in social, commercial, scientific, and government domains. This includes, for instance, content generated on the Internet through social media and search engines but also that which is generated in closed networks (commercial or government transactions) and open networks such as digital archives, open government and crowdsourced data. Critically, rather than settling on a definition the Journal makes this an object of interdisciplinary inquiries and debates explored through studies of a variety of topics and themes. BD&S seeks contributions that analyse Big Data practices and/or involve empirical engagements and experiments with innovative methods while also reflecting on the consequences for how societies are represented (epistemologies), realised (ontologies) and governed (politics).
A tool that I’ve been developing for a few years with Mathieu Jacomy (in fact he has done most of the actual developing). Sciencescape is a great little tool for performing simple scientometrics analysis from Scopus or Web of Science data. The last additions is the module ‘Referenscape’ that allows to extract heterogenous bibliometrics maps based on co-citations.
A long conference and a workshop that I gave (with Paul Girard) at the University of Coimbra in the framework of the project “The Importance of Being Digital”. The theme of the conference was how digital methods help overcome several classic binary oppositions of traditional social sciences.
Since the industrial revolution, the Earth may have entered the Anthropocene, a new geological epoch in which humans would be the main actors of the planet changes. The term Anthropocene indicates a new phase in relations between a planet governed by physical and biological laws – the Earth system – and a set of human societies engaged in conflicting relations of domination governed by economic, social or political laws – the World system. But as this transformation requires rethinking the scales and the dynamics of collective action, it imposes rethink jointly the World and the Earth. Such is the general objective of the “Politics of the Earth” interdisciplinary program.
Venturini, T., Baya-laffite, N., Cointet, J., Gray, I., Zabban, V., & De Pryck, K. (2014). Three Maps and Three Misunderstandings : A Digital Mapping of Climate Diplomacy. Big Data & Society, 1:1
This article proposes an original analysis of the international debate on climate change through the use of digital methods. Its originality is twofold. First, it examines a corpus of reports covering 18 years of international climate negotiations, a dataset never explored before through digital techniques. Second, in this paper we test an original approach to text analysis that combines automatic extractions and manual selection of the key issue-terms. The originality of our corpus and of our approach encouraged us to question some of the habits of digital research and confront three common misunderstandings about digital methods.
The best controversy atlas in my 2013/14 Controversy Mapping course. It presents the debate around Ocean Iron Fertilisation as a citizen conference:
Jacomy, M., Venturini, T., Heyman, S. & Bastian, M. (2014). ForceAtlas2, a Continuous Graph Layout Algorithm for Handy Network Visualization Designed for the Gephi Software. PlosONE, 9:6
Gephi is a network visualization software used in various disciplines (social network analysis, biology, genomics…). One of its key features is the ability to display the spatialization process, aiming at transforming the network into a map, and ForceAtlas2 is its default layout algorithm. We lay out its complete functioning for the users who need a precise understanding of its behaviour, from the formulas to graphic illustration of the result. We propose a benchmark for our compromise between performance and quality. We also explain why we integrated its various features and discuss our design choices.
Unfortunately, I have been involved only indirectly in this project (so far). Yet a great example to showcase to illustrate what quali-quantitative methods and digital datascape navigation mean.
One of the best video of my students in the Controversy Mapping Course in 2014 (in French however).
One of the best video of my students in the Controversy Mapping Course in 2014 (in French however).
Climaps.eu presents the results of the EU research project EMAPS, as well as its process: an experiment to use computation and visualization to harness the increasing availability of digital data and mobilize it for public debate. To do so, EMAPS gathered a team of social and data scientists, climate experts and information designers. It also reached out beyond the walls of Academia and engaged with the actors of the climate debate.
Climaps.eu is an online atlas providing data, visualizations and commentaries about climate adaptation debate. It contains 33 issue-maps and 5 issue-stories guiding the users in the combined reading of several maps. The atlas is addressed to climate experts (negotiators, NGOs and companies concerned by global warming, journalists…) and to citizens willing to engage with the issues of climate adaptation. It employs advanced digital methods to deploy the complexity of the issues related to climate adaptation and information design to make this complexity legible.
Severo, M., & Venturini, T. (2013). Intangible Cultural Heritage: Webs Comparing national networks with digital methods. New Media and Society, (forthcoming), 1–20. doi:10.1177/1461444814567981
The 2003 Unesco Convention for the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage (ICH) is addressed to States and assigns them several tasks. No State, however, can accomplish all these tasks without mobilizing a wide network of institutions, associations and individuals. The national ICH policies intersect, overlap and often transform the existing relationships among these actors. This paper aims at comparing several national networks (France, Italy, Switzerland) involved in the implementation of the 2003 Unesco Convention in order to highlight national trends and specificities. The analysis will employ an innovative methodology based on digital methods and aimed at exploring the landscapes of websites dedicated to the intangible heritage. Analyzing the hyperlinking strategies of ICH actors, we will identify the specific web topology of each nation, showing which actors are central and peripheral, whether clusters or cliques are formed and who plays the roles of authority and hub.
A week-long intensive course in controversy mapping that I gave at the Medialab of the Universitade Federale de Rio de Janeiro
A presentation that I gave at the AFSP (Association Française de Sciences Politiques) congress. The presentation describe and discuss a medium-size example of digital methods research: a digital cartography project on c-section and family planning that the médialab is carrying out for the World Health Organisation in collaboration with Density Design Milan.
Funded by the Network of Excellence in Internet Science (EINS) in the call “Disruptive ideas for an Internet Science”, Contropedia aims to build a platform for the real-time analysis and visualization of controversies in Wikipedia. Controversy metrics will be extracted from the activity streams generated by edits to, and discussions about, individual articles and groups of related articles.
In this project, I coordinate the médialab team and provide advice on the rational of controversy mapping.
A conference I gave at the Amsterdam Digital Methods Summer School. It presents Heatgraph a new tool of the médialab using the example of the article “Intangible Cultural Heritage Webs: comparing national networks with digital methods”.
The syllabus of the two controversy mapping course I will teach at Sciences Po
Bourdaa, M., Konsman, J. P., Secail, C., Venturini, T., Veyrat-Masson, I., & Gonon, F. (2013). Does television reflect the evolution of scientific knowledge? The case of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder coverage on French television. Public Understanding of Science. doi:10.1177/0963662513484842
Biomedical findings mature from uncertain observations to validated facts. Although subsequent studies often refute initial appealing findings, newspapers privilege the latter and often fail to cover refutations. Thus, biomedical knowledge and media reporting may diverge with time. Here we investigated how French television reported on three scientific questions relative to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) from 1995 to 2010.
The aim of the SOURCE project is to establish a virtual centre of excellence is to support, stimulate and coordinate European cross-border and cross-sector research on societal security and to integrate this research in the design and implementation of security measures throughout Europe. The centre will thus form the meeting place for and interface between societal and technological design and innovation, industry, and end-user application. The centre will assemble participants from all levels and segments of security research and implementation across Europe.
In this project, I coordinate the activities of the médialab, which are meant to visualize the results of the research of the other partners and to provide a wide range cartography of the online and scientific discussion on security issues in Europe.
An introduction to digital methods and their impacts on social sciences.
I have been invited to give this conference at the Bibliothèque nationale de France during the seminar “Cartographies de l’invisible Art, réseau, big data” (18/04/13)
In 2012 and 2013, I have been responsible for organizing the module on Innovation Networks at the the Alta Scuola Politecnica gathering the 150 best students of the Politecnico di Milano and Politecnico di Torino. In a week-long intensive workshop, the students learn about Science and Technology Studies and Digital Methods perform the analysis of an innovation network.
Venturini, T., Gemenne, F., & Severo, M. (2013). Des Migrants et des Mots. Une analyse numérique des débats médiatiques sur les migrations et l’environnement. Cultures & Conflits, 88(4).
Though environmental degradations appear today as a major driver of migration flows, the debate about the definition of the relationship between environment and migration remains vivid. In public debates, many terms exist to qualify those who have to migrate because of environmental disruptions: this has lead to controversies surrounding the use of these different terms. This article attempts to document this controversy through a study of the different uses of these terms in public debates online.
The FORCCAST (Formation à la Cartographie des Controverses pour l’Analise de Sciences et de Techniques) project is meant to develop and disseminate the teaching method of controversy mapping. The project has received a 8 years funding by the French Government and gathers a growing consortium of national and international universities.
In the project FORCCAST, I am responsible for the coordination of the Axis 1, on the exploration of techno-scientific controversies.
Latour, B., Jensen, P., Venturini, T., Grauwin, S., & Boullier, D. (2012). “The Whole is Always Smaller Than Its Parts” A Digital Test of Gabriel Tarde’s Monads. British Journal of Sociology, 63(4), 591–615.
In this paper we argue that the new availability of digital data sets allows to revisit Gabriel Tarde’s social theory that entirely dispensed
with using notions such as individual or society. By navigating datasets without making the distinction between the level of individual component and that of aggregated structure, it becomes possible to give some credibility to Tarde’s strange notion of ‘monads’.
Whether scientific communities will benefit from digitalization depends largely on their capability to understand and profit from the dynamics of the web. As long as online journals will remain the mere transposition of their paper counterparts, their interest will be limited to practical advantages. Though important, such advantages are only the smallest part of the revolution that online scientific publishing may yield if it succeeds in harnessing the full potential of digital networks. For digitalization to be a real step forward, innovative forms of digital publishing should be envisioned. This proposal is meant to discuss new forms of scientific publication and to imagine what an online platform for the publishing of digital social sciences may look like.
This conference has been given at the Just-In-Time Sociology workshop (EPFL Lausanne, 04/12/12).
A conference on how to engage the publics of sociotechnical controversies in the effort of controversy mapping.
I have been invited to give this conference at the 2012 4S conference on Science and Technology Studies (Copenhague – 18/10/12), at the ‘Tactics of Issue Mapping’ seminar of Goldsmith University (London – 26/10/12), at the Department of Media Studies of the University of Amsterdam (17/04/13) and at the Ecsite Conference on science centres and museums (Gothenburg – 08/06/13).
In the last few decades, networks acquired a new set of affordances and reached a larger audience, thanks to the growing availability of tools to design them. Drawn on paper or screen, networks become easier to handle and obtain properties that calculation cannot express. Far from being merely aesthetic, the graphical representation of networks has an intrinsic hermeneutic value. Networks become maps and can be read as such. Yet the visualization of networks has so far lacked of reflexivity and formalization. We designed and read networks as if their visual grammar was obvious, but the more we advance, the more we realize that this is not the case. This conference contributes to such reflection and proposes a tentative framework for the visual analysis of networks.
I have been invited to give this conference as an introductory Paris ThatCamp of Digital Humanities (24/10/12)
Venturini, T. (2012). Great expectations: méthodes quali-quantitative et analyse des réseaux sociaux. In J.-P. Fourmentraux (ed.), L’Ère Post-Media. Humanités digitales et Cultures numériques (pp. 39–51). Hermann: Paris.
This article discusses how digital traces can help social researchers to develop a new generation of quali-quantitative methods. It also introduces the computation, visualization and manipulation affordances of networks as graphs, maps and interfaces.
Venturini, T., & Guido, D. (2012). Once Upon a Text : an ANT Tale in Text Analysis. Sociologica, 3. doi:10.2383/72700
ANTA or Actor-‐Network Analyzer is a simple piece of software developed at Sciences Po médialab to offer social researchers a simple text-‐analysis tool attuned with the theoretical tenets of actor-‐network theory. Striving to make actor-‐network theory compatible with modern text-‐analysis, we have learned much about both. In this paper we’ll discuss our adventure in ANT and text-‐analysis while describing the basic functions of ANTA and providing examples of its usage.
Since 2010, I have been teaching Controversy Mapping and Science and Technology Studies (25h course) in the design workshop of Density Design at the University of the Politecnico of Milano.
Among other things, at Sciences Po I am responsible for coordinating and teaching the courses of Controversy Mapping. Controversy Mapping has been invented by Bruno Latour some twenty years ago as as a method to train students in the observation and description of sociotechnical debates. Since then, the method has evolved considerably and has been implemented by several universities all around the World (Paris, Copenhagen, Milan, Manchester, Amsterdam, Liège, Lausanne, Padova, Trento, Buenos Aires…).
In the framework of the ‘equipment d’excellence’ DIME-SHS, I participate as scientific advisor to the development of a series of tools and methods to exploit web traces for the social sciences.
A conference on the affordances of networks (as graphs, maps and interface) and their potential to exploit digital traces and provide the first example of what quali-quantitative methods for social sciences could be.
I have been invited to give this lecture at the Ecole de Recherche Graphique de école supérieure des arts à Bruxelles (03/07/12)
Together with A. Lorenzet, I have organize a session on “Debating Environmental Controversies” at the Public Communication of Science and Technology Conference in Florence (18-20/04/12). In this session I gave a conference on the different types of communication of controversial issues.
Each controversy is a word apart and its specificity deserves an ad hoc communication strategy. A few ‘controversies families’ can however be identified. In this presentation I present three different types of controversies and their correspondent communication approaches. To do so, I draw on the climate change controversies showing how they clusters around three questions generating three different types of controversies: is global warming occurring and are we responsible? How do we mitigate global warming effects? How do we adapt to global warming?
An introductory controversy linking together controversy mapping and digital methods and explaining why the work well together.
This conference has been given at the Sociology Department of the Copenhagen University (04/03/12)
One of the most intriguing notions developed by Bruno Latour as a part of his ‘controversy mapping’ approach is the idea of second-degree objectivity. ‘Second-degree objectivity’ is an objectivity obtained by the multiplication of different viewpoints; an objectivity that comes from diversity rather than from uniformity; an impartiality that comes from exploring a multitude of partial bias, rather than abstracting from them.
I have been invited to give this conference at the Visualizing Knowledge Controversies Symposium at the University of Oxford (21/01/12) and at the Social Sciences and Web2 workshop at La Cantine (Paris, 04/04/12).
A conference discussing the concept of ’emergence’ in social sciences and its connection to the methodological distinction between qualitative and quantitative research techniques. In the conference, I argue that digital traceability, providing the possibility to envision a new generation of truly quali-quantitative methods, allows to overcome the opposition between micro-interactions and macro-structures and move toward a ‘flat’ (yet not homogeneous) vision of the social.
I have given this conference at “The Unexpected Conference: do human beings behave as atoms” (CREA Paris, 16/11/11) and at the seminar “Réseaux sociaux : des structures à la politique” (IXXI Lyon, 12/12/11).
To contribute to understanding the challenges raised by climate change and complement the EMAPS project, MEDEA is meant develop an online toolkit to map the environmental debate in France. Financed by the Agence Nationale de la Recherche (CEP&S call), MEDEA starts under my coordination on November 1st 2011.
To answer such questions, Bruno Latour and I submitted EMAPS to the EU ‘Science in Society’ call. Focusing on the web as a tool of collective endeavor, EMAPS aims at engaging the actors involved in climate adaptation debate in an ‘open-air’ experiment on the interactive platform developed within the project. Funded by the European Union Commission, the project starts on November first 2011.
A short essay presenting the ideas behind the HCI project.
Venturini, T. & Latour, B. (2010).“The Social Fabric: Digital Traces and Quali-quantitative Methods”. Proceedings of Future En Seine.
An article I wrote with Bruno Latour on quali-quantitative methods and digital sociology.
Venturini, T. (2010). Diving in magma: how to explore controversies with actor-network theory. Public Understanding of Science, 19(3), 258–273. doi:10.1177/0963662509102694
The cartography of controversies is a set of techniques to explore and visualize issues. It was developed by Bruno Latour as a didactic version of Actor- Network Theory to train college students in the investigation of contemporary socio-technical debate. The scope and interest of such cartography, however, exceed its didactic origin. Adopted and developed in several universities in Europe and the US, the cartography of controversies is today a full research method, though, unfortunately, not a much documented one. To fill this lack of documentation, we draw on our experience as Latour’s teaching assistant, to introduce some of the main techniques of the social cartographer toolkit. In particular, in these pages we will focus on exploration, leaving the discussion of visualization tools to a further paper.
Venturini, T. (2012). Building on faults: how to represent controversies with digital methods. Public Understanding of Science, 21(7), 796 – 812. doi:10.1177/0963662510387558.
In this article, I will discuss how to render the complexity of controversiesvthrough an original visualization device: the controversy- website. Capitalizing on the potential of digital technologies, the controversy-website has been developed as a multilayered toolkit to trace and aggregate information on public debates.
Post-doc research on the sociology of modernization. The project was co-hosted by the Communication Studies Department of the University of Bologna and the Università di Scienze Gastronomiche di Slow Food.
The research analyzed the case of Eataly, an Italian supermarket chain that tries to apply the most modern marketing and distribution techniques to the most traditional food production. Can the distinction between modernity and tradition be overcome?
My adventure in controversy mapping and my collaboration with Bruno Latour started with the MACOSPOL (MApping COntroversies On Science for POLitics) project, where I worked as an advisor to the Paris team.
Since its foundation in 2009, I have coordinated the research activities of médialab of Sciences Po.
Created by Bruno Latour, the médialab is a laboratory dedicated to digital research. It is a team of specialists bringing together social scientists, engineers and designers. It is a high- tech facility, a hub for vanguard research, a scientific toolkit and a platform for launching national and international collaborations. The médialab’s project has received an A+ evaluation by the French research evaluation Agency.
Venturini, T. (2008). Piccola introduzione alla cartografia delle controversie. Etnografia e ricerca qualitativa, 3, 369–394.
The cartography of controversies (cartografia delle controversies) is a collection of techniques to observe and describe social issues developed by Bruno Latour as an applied version of Actor-Network Theory. Originally, it was used to guide college students in the exploration of scientific and technological debates. The scope and interest of such cartography, however, exceed its didactic origin. Adopted in several universities and developed by a number of international projects, the cartography of controversies is today a full research methodology. In this article, we draw on our experience as Latour’s teaching assistant, to introduce some of the main ideas and techniques of the cartography of controversies.
Venturini, T. (2007). Les trous noirs de la Réevolution Verte. Décroissance & technique, 3.
This article describes the controversies stirred by the process of agricultural modernization in the so-called ‘green-revolution’
Venturini, T. (2007). Verba Volant, Scripta Manent: The Discontinuity Effect of Explicit Media. American Behavioral Scientist, 50(7), 879–896. doi:10.1177/0002764206298313
It is commonly recognized that different social configurations tend to be associated with different types of innovation. Not surprisingly, linear innovations are more likely to be produced by communities of strong and homogeneous ties; while radical innovations are more likely to originate from networks of weak and diverse connections. Yet, there is a second and subtler linkage between social patterns and innovation types: a junction which depends on the nature of the media available to different groups. The key role is played by explicitness. Communities, being relatively homogeneous, can rely on implicit forms of communication, while networks require explicit channels and languages to relate their highly diverse components. This difference in media explicitness tends to produce a difference in innovation styles. According to the main hypothesis of this paper, the more explicit are the media available to a group, the more discontinuous and radical will be the innovation generated. The discontinuity effect of explicit media will be explained with examples drawn from the history of media and technologies and some empirical ground will be provided through the analysis of a much-discussed case of biopiracy.
Venturini, T. (2006). Opera Aperta: Wikipedia e l’oralità secondaria. Magma, 4, 35–45.
In questo articolo si discuterà di Wikipedia, se ne analizzerà il modello comunicativo e si mostrerà come esso getti nuova luce sulla distinzione oralità/scrittura. Riflettendo sui processi e sui prodotti della mediazione comunicativa, illustreremo quindi come Wikipedia abbia dato vita a una forma di comunicazione davvero nuova. Un modello comunicativo caratterizzato da un’apertura radicale e totale che non può essere assimilata né all’oralità, né alla scrittura.
Venturini, T. (2005). Il mago e l’imprenditore magico. Cassazione Penale, 45(3).
Drawing on the legal case of an italian magician, this article discuss the difference between tradition and modern magic
PhD research on the sociology of modernization at the University of Milano Bicocca.
The research investigates the tensions connected to the modernization of agriculture by analyzing a series of controversy on biopiracy and the patenting of agro-biodiversity.