Winter Institute 2019 | #SMARTDataSprint

Digital Media Winter Institute 2019
SMART Data Sprint: Beyond visible engagement

28 January – 1 February, 2019.
9:30 – 17:30 I #SMARTdatasprint I Research Blog I
Facebook Group: SMART Data Sprint I @iNOVAmedialab
Universidade Nova de Lisboa I NOVA FCSH I iNOVA Media Lab

˚ ˚ SMART Data Sprint ˚ ˚

SMART Data Sprint is an intensive hands-on work, driven by online data and digital methods. We adopt experimental and inventive ways of reading, seeing and analysing platform data, with the aim of responding to a set of research questions. For one week, participants will have the chance to attend keynote lectures, short talks, and parallel sessions of practical labs. After that, experts and scholars will invite participants to join projects and work in a collective problem.

We are pleased to announce that Richard Rogers (Professor of New Media & Digital Culture, Media Studies, University of Amsterdam) is joining SMART Data Sprint 2019 with a keynote talk and practical labs. Rogers is Director of Foundation as well as the Digital Methods Initiative, and the author of Information Politics on the Web (MIT Press, 2004), awarded the 2005 best book of the year by the American Society of Information Science & Technology (ASIS&T) and Digital Methods (MIT Press, 2013), awarded the 2014 Outstanding Book of the Year by the International Communication Association (ICA).

SMART Data Sprint is open mainly to doctoral students and scholars. Master students, non-academics, developers, research professionals, data journalists, designers, and passionate about data and platform-led studies are also welcome. Our goal is to collectively achieve concrete outcomes, creating the opportunity for knowledge production and providing an environment in which participants can equally contribute and benefit from one another’s expertise. We believe that: 1) new approaches for social media research can be collectively built and designed through this experimental and exploratory process, and advanced by digital methods; 2) the data sprint approach can trigger new possibilities for ongoing digital research, as well as provide descriptions and a broad/narrow view on the subject of study.[/vc_column_text]

This year SMART Data Sprint is committed to critically approach engagement: a key parameter for web platforms studies, and a driver for scientific analysis and critique. Digital engagement may connect with participation, interest, contestation or support in different fields of society. It can also refer to ‘the language of sociality’ or a renewed currency in our societies [2], in which stakeholders and diverse communities engage differently cross platforms. A common research strategy to approach engagement is the use of the most relevant or trending lists as sources of knowledge. In this scenario, engagement research relates to visible practices, and its measures of analysis tend to focus on high-visibility instead of ordinary lists [3] or opt for marketing measures rather than other modes of engagement [4]. These visible and prominent data are, actually, the output offered by platforms such as Google, YouTube and Facebook, which sell the idea that “all activity is equally and meritocratically available, visible, public, and potentially viral” [5].

Another matter of concern in studying digital engagement is to account for the different actors who may influence or boost public engagement: automated beings. There is no novelty in affirming that bots, ad companies, and applications play a crucial role in our daily digital life. In this context, how to conduct engagement studies on web platforms? What are the alternative approaches and ways of studying digital engagement?

SMART Data Sprint 2019 invites participants to go beyond visible engagement: foregrounding digital practices and considering alternative metrics to measure other forms of engagement – such as dominant voice, concern, commitment, positioning and alignment, as proposed by Richard Rogers [5] in his Critical Analytics approach. Additionally, we challenge participants to think critically about the agency of bots, ad companies and algorithmic techniques embedded in digital infrastructures. SMART Data Sprint 2019 is a call for investigating the domains of engagement: activity, logic, structure and the vocabulary of actions together with an understanding of the social relations [3]. It is also an invitation to account engagement under unseen practices and the logic of both human and non-human activities.

[1] The Porn Similar Apps Network 2018 shows the logic of Google Play Store recommendation algorithm. Analysis by Christina Meyenburg Dall Christensen, Emanuela Blaiotta, Janna Joceli Omena, Maggie MacDonald, Shefali Bharati, and Stephanie de Smale, DMI Summer School 2018.
[2] Marres, N. (2017). Digital sociology. Bristol: Polity Press.
[3] Omena,J. J., Rabello, E., Mintz, A., Sanchez-Querubin, N., Ozkula, S., Sued, G., Elbeyi, E. & Cicali, A. (2017). Visualising hashtag engagement: Imagery of political polarization on Instagram. DMI Summer School 2017.
Omena, J.J.; Mintz, A.; Rabello, E. (2018). Hashtags are not the whole message: Approaching Hashtag Engagement Research. Instagram Conference 2018 – Studying Instagram beyond selfies. Middlesex University, 1 June 2018, London.
[4] Rogers, R. (2018). Otherwise Engaged: Social Media from Vanity Metrics to Critical Analytics. International Journal of Communication : IJoC, 12, 450-472.
[5] Tarleton Gillespie (24 ago 2017). The Platform Metaphor, Revisited (In this text Gillespie presents the poles of what consists ‘the platform metaphor’: what is emphasized/highlighted versus what is hidden/not captured – or what he calls “the obscured aspects of platforms”. The main focus here is to discuss and reflect on how web platforms downplay its hidden aspects).

˚ ˚ Keynote Talks and Practical Labs ˚ ˚

We are glad to receive Richard Rogers (University of Amsterdam), the director of Digital Methods Initiative and the author of Digital Methods (MIT Press, 2013), with a keynote talk and practical labs.

We also welcome Bernhard Rieder, associate professor in New Media and Digital Culture at the University of Amsterdam, with the masterclass “From Algorithms to Diagrams: How to Study Platforms?”, and a practical lab on machine learning techniques.

An International team of senior researchers, doctoral and master students will also be leading Short Talks and Practical Labs*. This year, the practical labs will contemplate the following themes:

» Query Design
» Data Extraction Tools
» Querying App Stores
» Network Analysis with Gephi
» Image Networks
» YouTube Data Analysis
» Text Analysis with Antconc and Voyant Tools
» Raw Graphs
» Visual content analysis with Image Plot

» Hybrid Classification: Combining Grounded Theory and Machine Learning

» Extracting and analysing data with NodeXL Pro

* Detailed info on Practical Labs will be available for all SMART Data Sprint participants (after the acceptance notification).

˚ ˚ Projects ˚ ˚

Journalism Apps

Dora Santos Silva (Assistant professor at NOVA FCSH)
Mariana Scalabrin Müller (Doctoral researcher at Universidade do Minho and Universidade NOVA de Lisboa)

Health myths’ circulation on social media: the cases of detox therapies, anti-vaxxers and zika epidemics

Elaine Rabello (Associate Professor at Social Medicine Institute I Rio de Janeiro State University)

Interrogating Vision APIs

Tarcízio Silva (Researcher at IBPAD – Brazilian Institute of Research and Data Analysis)
André Mintz (Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais – UFMG, Brazil)

Frugal Innovation

Miguel Amaral (Instituto Superior Técnico, Universidade de Lisboa)
Elsa Caetano (iNOVA Media Lab, Portugal)

(Other projects to be confirmed)

˚ ˚ Preparation ˚ ˚

We strongly suggest all participants to watch web tutorials about data extraction and data mining tools, as well as visualization software. We also recommend visiting the following links: Netlytic, Cortext médiala tools, DMI tools, Raw, and a list of research software developed by Bernhard Rieder. Tools such as Gephi for visualization and exploration of networks, and some Firefox extensions, e.g. Save Images, DownThemAll, and GrabThemAll, may also be helpful.

Please bring your computer and everything you need to support your work.

˚ ˚ Applications, Tuition Fee and Logistics ˚ ˚

Please send an email to smart.inovamedialab[at] with your CV (with photo), 100-word bio, and a brief statement introducing your research interests and explaining how SMART Data Sprint may benefit your current work. The deadline for applications is 13 January 2019.

Deadline for applications Tuition Fee *
13 January 2019  EUR 320,- [all participants]
EUR 270,- [NOVA students]

SMART Data Sprint is a full-time (from 9:30 to 17:30) and self-catered course. Thus, participants are responsible for their own meals. There are affordable restaurants close to NOVA FCSH and options inside the Faculty.  We have no agreement with specific hotels, so it is up to participants to choose their accommodations.

You should visit the Turismo de Lisboa website for touristic information.

The cost of SMART Data Sprint is 320 euros for the general public. There is a different fee for NOVA students (270 euros).

˚ ˚ Scholarship ˚ ˚

We understand that the academic journey can be tough in financial terms, and accounting this scenario, SMART Data Sprint offers five scholarships to cover accommodation and part of the tuition fee expenses. The scholarships are exclusively awarded to gifted doctoral or master students on the grounds of academic merit and digital methods literacy or skill expertise (e.g. new media students, developers or data designers).

To apply for SMART Data Sprint scholarships, you must provide your CV (with photo), a motivational letter, referential work, proof of academic merit and proof of the lack of financial means. Please send an email to smart.inovamedialab[at] with your application, and find below the application schedule:

SMART Data Sprint Scholarship Schedule
Applications open at Applications close at Final Selection Tuition Fee
15 October 2018 10 December 2018 20 December 2018  EUR 60,-

˚ ˚ Research Blog and Social Media ˚ ˚

SMART Data Sprint Research Blog + Videos

Official hashtag: #SMARTdatasprint

Facebook Group: SMART Data Sprint

Find out more about the projects and themes of SMART Data Sprint in previous years:

SMART Data Sprint 2018

SMART Data Sprint 2017


Gillespie, Tarleton. 2017. The Platform Metaphor, Revisited. The Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society (HIIG),

Kitchin, Rob. 2017. “Thinking Critically about and Researching Algorithms.” Information, Communication and Society, 20(1).

Marres, N. (2017). Digital sociology. Bristol: Polity Press.

Omena, J.J.; Mintz, A.; Rabello, E. 2018. Hashtags are not the whole message: Approaching Hashtag Engagement Research. Instagram Conference 2018 – Studying Instagram beyond selfies. Middlesex University, 1 June 2018, London.

Rieder, B;  Matamoras-Fernándes, A.; Coromina, O. 2018. From ranking algorithms to ‘ranking cultures’: Investigating the modulation of visibility in YouTube search results. Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies 2018, Vol. 24(1) 50–68 DOI: 10.1177/1354856517736982

Rogers, R. 2013. Digital Methods. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Rogers, R. 2018. Otherwise Engaged: Social Media from Vanity Metrics to Critical Analytics. International Journal of Communication : IJoC, 12, 450-472.

Woolley, S. C. 2016. Automating Power: Social Bot Interference in Global Politics. First Monday, v.21, n.4.

Woolley, S. and Howard, P. N. 2016. Political Communication, Computational Propaganda, and Autonomous Agents. Introduction.  International Journal of Communication 10(2016), 4882–4890

Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas
Universidade Nova de Lisboa
Avenida de Berna, 26 C
Edifício B1, sala 1.09
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Phone: +351 217 908 300 ext. 1438

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