Fake News – Call for collaboration

Pleased to announce a new project to create “A Field Guide to Fake News”, led by Liliana BounegruJonathan Gray and myself.

In the wake of concerns about the role of “fake news” in relation to the US elections, the project aims to catalyse collaborations between digital media researchers, data journalists and civil society groups. The guide will be the first project of the Public Data Lab – an interdisciplinary network seeking to facilitate research, democratic engagement and public debate around the future of the data society – in collaboration with the First Draft Coalition.

If you’re interested in collaborating to the project, refer to the Call for Collaborators.


From Analysis to Presentation

Boechat, Marina, and Tommaso Venturini. 2016. “From Analysis to Presentation: Information Visualization for Reifying Issues and Reenacting Insights in Visual Data Analysis.” Les Cahiers Du Numérique 4: 185–205. doi:10.3166/LCN.12.4.185-204.

In this paper, we discuss the use of information visualization in digital sociology, (particularly in Controversy Mapping), and its role in outlining issues and objects of study through progressive insights. We believe the differences in visualizations between analysis and presentation are better understood as linked by a chain of transformations, rather than as two separate and stable levels of representation. We propose that, through such chain, two research movements are performed: the reification of issues, related to the construction of a stable consensus, and the reenaction of insights, that points to the role of visualizations as communication tools. We will illustrate such movements and effects by using a few examples of visualizations produced in the EMAPS research project.

Read the preprint version of the paper

Data-Sprint: a Public Approach to Digital Research


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.

Read the pre-print version of the paper

EMAPS wins the Etoiles d’Europe prize

Happy to announce that the project EMAPS has won the prize Etoiles d’Europe celebrating the best EU financed research project.

See Climaps.eu the platform developed by EMAPS.

Read an interview about the prize.

Contropedia, and the question of analytically separating the medium and the message


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

See the slides of the presentation

See the video of the lecture

A Tale of Two Cities: Controversy Mapping and Issue Mapping (and any subtle differences)

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.

See the slides of the presentation

Designing Controversies and their Publics


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.

Dowload the preprint

Watch a conference I gave on the topic at the University of Leuven

Societal Controversies in Wikipedia Articles


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.

Read the paper

Understanding Climate Negotiations Controversies


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.

See the website of the event

See the presentations of the project developed by the participants

Climaps at Europeana 2015


The presentation I gave of EMAPS and its online-atlas Climaps.eu at at Europeana 2015 (one of the largest tech conference in Digital Humanities).

See the slides of the presentation

Politiques de la Terre – Politics of the Earth


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.

See the project website

Three Maps and Three Misunderstandings : A Digital Mapping of Climate Diplomacy


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.

Download the full text 
Read the article online
See the images at hi-resolution

Ocean Fertilisation Controversy


The best controversy atlas in my 2013/14 Controversy Mapping course. It presents the debate around Ocean Iron Fertilisation as a citizen conference:

See the atlas

The ‘recovered memories’ controversy


One of the best video of my students in the Controversy Mapping Course in 2014 (in French however).

Watch the video

The nk603 maize controversy


One of the best video of my students in the Controversy Mapping Course in 2014 (in French however).

Watch the video

Climaps by EMAPS, A Global Issue Atlas of Climate Change Adaptation


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.

See the Climaps Online Atlas

See the Summary for Policy Maker of the Project on the Social Sciences Research Network

Cartografia de Controversias


A week-long intensive course in controversy mapping that I gave at the Medialab of the Universitade Federale de Rio de Janeiro

See the video of the introductory conference

Contropedia (Controversy Mapping in Wikipedia)


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.

See the project website

Watch a video presenting Contropedia

Controversy Mapping Syllabus


The syllabus of the two controversy mapping course I will teach at Sciences Po

PSIA (Paris School of International Affairs)

SCUBE (double licence en sciences et sciences sociales)



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.

See the project website

Designing Controversies for the Public


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).

See the slides of the conference

Controversy Mapping


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…).

See the archive of the best work of the students of the course

Communicating Controversies


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?

See the slides of the conference

Follow the White Rabbit


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)

See the slides of the conference

Second Degree Objectivity


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).

See the slides of the conference

MEDEA (Mapping Environmental Debates on Adaptation)

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.

Download the project
See the project website

EMAPS (Electronic Maps to Assist Public Science)

picture of a melting glacier
What difference does it makes to be equipped with online tools for mapping technoscientific issues? Can such equipment improve the way we publicly discuss science and technology?

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.

Click here to download the project
See the project website

Diving in Magma: How to Explore Controversies with Actor-Network Theory

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.

Click here to download the preprint.

Building on Faults: How to Represent Controversies with Digital Methods


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.

Click here to download the preprint.

Degrowth Controversy

One of the best websites realized in 2011 by the students of my Controversy Mapping course.

Click here to see the website.

Global Licence Controversy

One of the best websites realized in 2011 by the students of my Controversy Mapping course.

Click here to see the website.



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.

See the web-platform delivered by the project

Piccola introduzione alla cartografia della controversie


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.

Download the preprint (in Italian)

Les trous noirs de la Révolution Verte


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’

Download the preprint (in French)

Seminare Vento


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.

Download the research report