The Network Institute hosts WebSci’18 at VU from 27-30 May 2018

The Network Institute hosts the 10th ACM Conference on Web Science, 27-30 May 2018. It is a wonderful opportunity and a great pleasure for the Network Institute to be able host the 10th ACM conference on Web Science, WebSci’18, at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam this year.

Web Science is a unique conference where a multitude of disciplines converge in a creative and critical dialogue with the aim of understanding the Web and its impacts. Web Science participants are from diverse fields including (but not limited to) art, anthropology, computer and information sciences, communication, economics, humanities, informatics, law, linguistics, philosophy, political science, psychology, and sociology. The conference particularly welcomes contributions that seek to cross traditional disciplinary boundaries, that describe original research, analysis, and practice in the field of Web Science, and that discusses novel and thought-provoking ideas.

WebSci’18 is chaired by former network Institute director Hans Akkermans. Keynote speakers will be, amongst others, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, and recipient of the 2016 Turing award, and José van Dijck, president of the KNAW.

InNet presents at The Network Society Conference

One group presenting at the VU Lustrum (see below) will show off their demo of visualizing networked data using the Network Institute as source. Check out their online demo at:

The VU is organising next Friday, 18 March, 12h30-17h30.

With speakers like Piek Vossen (on his NewsReader), Herbert Bos (on white hackers), and Anna Bon (on ICT4Development),
and with workshops on Social Media in organisations, on the implications of digitisation for the modern city, and on the ethics of AI (among others), this promises to be a very interesting event, with a very prominent Network Institute flavour.

Hope to see you all on the afternoon of next Friday, 18 March in the Auditorium in the main buidling.
Register here:


Reminder: Guide to the network society

We warmly recommend the event that the VU is organising next Friday, 18 March, 12h30-17h30.

With speakers like Piek Vossen (on his NewsReader), Herbert Bos (on white hackers), and Anna Bon (on ICT4Development),
and with workshops on Social Media in organisations, on the implications of digitisation for the modern city, and on the ethics of AI (among others), this promises to be a very interesting event, with a very prominent Network Institute flavour.

Hope to see you all on the afternoon of next Friday, 18 March in the Auditorium in the main buidling.
Register here:


Southampton Web Science – Research Exchange Meeting

Southampton Web Science – Network Institute Amsterdam Research Exchange Meeting
Thursday 31 March and Friday 01 April 2016 at VU Amsterdam

We invite you to an interdisciplinary research exchange meeting between young researchers and senior staff of the Southampton U Web Science Institute and the Network Institute Amsterdam, to be held Thursday 31 March and Friday 01 April 2016 at VU Amsterdam.
Both institutes happen to share a very similar interdisciplinary research philosophy covering multiple faculties (ranging from informatics/computer science, various social sciences, to linguistics and humanities).
The idea behind the meeting is to share interdisciplinary research experiences and approaches, enrich our understanding of them and, even more ambitiously, actually getting some collaborative interdisciplinary research done. Evidently we hope that this will lead (1) to strengthen views on how to do high-quality interdisciplinary research; (2) hopefully, to more long term-collaborations between our institutes.

Provisional programme
Thursday 31 March

09.30 Welcome and Opening
09.30-12.00 Your Current Research – Plenary: short pitches + poster/demo market
Everyone: making yourself known: prepare a brief (1-minute madness) pitch + poster (and/or demo) on the research you are doing. (Your posters will be publicized on the institute websites).
12.00-13.30 Lunch
13.30-14.00 Kick-off challenge research work in groups
The idea is to work on a number of outstanding and interesting interdisciplinary research challenges in small (around 4) and mixed (location as well as discipline) teams during the exchange meeting. For a preliminary idea of the research challenges, see below.
14.00-16.30 Self-work session I on research challenge in project groups
16.30-17.30 Invited talk
17h30- …  Dinner plus social event somewhere at a nice place in Amsterdam

Please appreciate that the “small hours” in Amsterdam easily become pretty BIG, but that the next morning we will start 09.30 (as if nothing has happened). 

Friday 01 April:
09.30-10.15 Plenary: Brief reporting back on progress by all research challenge groups
About 5 minutes per challenge/group
10.15 -12.30 Self-work session II on research challenge in project groups
And in parallel: Break-out senior staff meeting Web Science I – Network I.
12.30-13.30 Lunch
13.30-15.30 Plenary: Presentations on work on research challenges by all project groups
So tentatively, about 15 minutes for each challenge/group.
15.30-16.30 Plenary discussion of future collaboration: themes & methods
16.30 Closure

BTW: Not yet formally scheduled, but the Network Institute will ensure coffee (for the Dutch-inclined) and tea (for the English-inclined) during the whole meeting.

We cater for around 20 participants from Southampton and a similar number from Amsterdam.

The organizers:
Prof. Leslie Carr, Southampton
Prof. Susan Halford, Southampton
Prof. Frank van Harmelen, Amsterdam
Dr. Ivar Vermeulen, Amsterdam
Prof. Hans Akkermans, Amsterdam

Interdisciplinary Research Challenges in Web/Network Science (draft 2)
This is a preliminary longlist of interdisciplinary research challenges people may like to work on.


  • Background: Around 16 Southampton PhD students and around 4 faculty members will visit the Network Institute on March 31 / April 01
  • In Amsterdam they will be met by a similar number of PhD students / Academy Assistants and faculty members
  • In a Skype meeting both sides agreed that the main part of the two-day exchange should consist of a project wherein students would be divided in around 8 mixed (i.e., South/A’dam; computer/social science; seniority) groups of 4 and work on a web/network science challenge.
  • The following is a suggestion for some of these challenges as well as the general approach.


  • Challenges should be interesting, demanding, require hard thinking, and be fun!
  • Challenges should require an interdisciplinary approach.
  • Challenges should be methodologically focused (concepts, theory, methods, tools, data, ethics; concentrating on all or part of this process)
  • Groups are expected to provide indicative outputs/outcomes from their methodological investigation.
  • Presentations are limited to about 10 minutes
  • Support: groups should have access to web data via e.g. the Southampton Web Observatory, the VU LODLaundromat & others.

Example Challenges:

  1. Describe Donald Trump in one characteristic word or phrase. How does this change over time? How does this change per target group?
  2. What characterizes news stories that first emerge through social media (rather than trough the official news media)?
  3. If you would be a refugee from Syria, which EU country should you go to? (cross-platform examination of government policy, social and economic opportunities, racism, etc).
  4. Which word elicits most anger? (How can we understand emotion online? How do different techniques of sentiment analysis characterize emotion).
  5. How is Amsterdam represented online? [beyond geotags, key words, photographs perhaps, representations by different communities – different vernacular geographies).
  6. What measures of consumer confidence might we find on social media? Do they differ, and if so in what ways, from conventional data (such as surveys)?
  7. Can one actually predict next week’s hype on social media such as Twitter?
  8. What is it (contentwise, empirically) that makes a pop song a “hit”?
  9. What characterizes jokes on Twitter that are widely perceived as “very funny”?
  10. Does the Web have anything to say on what are the most important success factors for startups? How does this differ from traditional theory and advice from business schools, banks/investors, consultancies, chambers of commerce etc?
  11. These days, almost any city in the world is proclaimed to be “smart”. Is it possible to devise a measure as to the degree of smartness of cities in a way that can be empirically grounded through Web data?
  12. Civil society, citizen engagement: The Web is often positioned as an instrument for empowerment and democratic debate (e.g. by TBL himself). Countervoices claim however that digital debates such as on social media are often hijacked by the most noisy, with often extreme opinions, and so in fact reduce (representative) democracy. Q: How can one give some grounding on this issue of the Web as an instrument (or not) for democracy?
  13. A global issue: What is it to be “poor”, or “disadvantaged” or “underprivileged”? A common definition is that being poor = having to live off an income less than 2 dollars a day. This definition comes from various global institutional sources. But what do “the poor” themselves think of this? What evidence do the Web and social media give on their perspective on this global issue?

The organizers

“Organizing for Digital Innovation” workshop

KIN Research hosts international workshop ‘Organizing for Digital Innovation’ – March 11 & 12
19 February 2016
Several of the world’s thought leaders in (managing) digital innovation will meet in Amsterdam on 11 and 12 March at the workshop ‘Organizing for Digital Innovation’, that is hosted by KIN Research. Dick Boland, Ola Henfridsson, Youngjin Yoo, Michael Barrett, Raghu Garud, Patrick Cohendet and Brian Pentland are among the list of international renowned academics who join the workshop to present and discuss their latest work and to craft an agenda for future research that includes digital innovation in communities and ecosystems, digital products, services and infrastructures, digital work practices and routines, and strategy and digitalization.


Guide to the network society

In de tweede lustrumconferentie op 18 maart staan de digitalisering en de invloed op de mens centraal. Informatici, geesteswetenschappers en sociale wetenschappers kijken naar de toekomst. Willen we allemaal een robot in huis? Ga jij naar de online kerk? Ben je pas veilig als je denkt als een hacker? Wat gebeurt er als je unconnected bent? Onder meer met een lezing door Herbert Bos, hoogleraar Systeem- en Netwerkbeveiliging.
Meer info:

Prof. Ken McRae talks about “The Importance of Event Knowledge”

The Marie Curie COGVIM project presents:

The Importance of Event Knowledge in the Organization and Structure of Semantic Memory

Invited speaker: prof. Ken McRae
Department of Psychology, and Brain & Mind Institute
University of Western Ontario, Canada

SEPTEMBER 11TH 2015, time: 15.00-17.00

University of Amsterdam
P.C. Hoofthuis (room 1.04)
Spuistraat 134

Please notify the organizers about your participation by sending an email before September 7th

“People constantly use concepts and word meaning to recognize entities and objects in their environment, to anticipate how entities will behave and interact with one another, to know how objects should be used, and to understand language. Over the years, a number of theories have been presented regarding how concepts are organized and structured in semantic memory. For example, various theories stress that concepts (or lexical items) are linked by undifferentiated associations. Other theories stress hierarchical categorical (taxonomic) structure, whereas others focus on similarity among concepts. In this talk, I will present evidence that people’s knowledge of real-world events and situations is an important factor underlying the organization, structure, and (contextually-determined) usage of concepts in semantic memory. I will present experiments spanning word, picture, and discourse processing. Evidence for the importance of event-based knowledge will cover a number of  types of concepts, including verbs, nouns denoting living and nonliving things, and abstract concepts. I conclude that semantic memory is structured in the mind so that the computation and use of knowledge of real-world events and situations is both rapid and fundamental.”

Screen Shot 2015-09-05 at 17.40.08

Sun Joo (Grace) Ahn (Stanford) talks about Immersive VR Sept 15

As part of the unfolding activities of Network Iinstitute’s VR group, we would be excited if you like to save the date for an upcoming presentation by Sun Joo (Grace) Ahn, former Stanford Ph.D. of Jeremy Bailenson. Grace will talk about “Persuasive Technologies: Using Immersive Virtual Environments to Promote Attitude and Behavior Change.”
Grace will visit the VU Communication Science department Tuesday September 15. Her presentation is scheduled for 15:30 – 17:00. The exact room/location at the VU will be announced shortly!
If you like to meet with Grace 1:1 on Tuesday to talk about research, please let me know so that I can bundle and forward requests to her.
Abstract of presentation: 
“Immersive virtual environments offer several novel affordances that allow users to interact with and experience mediated events that were difficult or impossible with traditional media. The effects of these virtual experiences transfer into the physical world to transform attitudes and behavior, shifting our traditional understanding of communication patterns. This talk addresses how immersive virtual environments may be used as tools of persuasion in the realms of health and consumer behavior, discussing the tripartite interactions between reality, virtual reality, and humans.
By the way: Also note the upcoming Dutch VR days in Amsterdam (you can pre-register now)!  – an excellent opportunity to try out VR technology, demos and applications.

Network Institute’s End of Year Event

The Network Institute’s End of Academic Year Event will take place this Wednesday, July 1st, 15h in the Kerkzaal on the top floor of the VU main building.

We have an exciting programme:

  • 15h00 – 15h20 – Johan Hoorn speaks on Alice the care robot, including part of the pricewinning documentary about Alice (zie [1] & [2])
  • 15h20 – 15h40 – Evert Haasdijk speaks on self-replicating robots, including part of De Volmaakte Mens documentary (VPRO) showing the robots [3]
  • 15h40 – 16h00 – Discussion on the promises and threats of these new technologies
  • 16h00 – 17h00 – Pitches & posters by last year’s Academy Assistants projects, and announcements of the selected projects for the coming year
  • 17h                     – Drinks

We are looking forward to seeing you on Wednesday, 15h in de Kerkzaal.

Enter and win a Industry-Research Collaboration Voucher worth € 5000

On May 26 (3:30pm-6pm, Intertain Lab, W&N Building, VU University) the Network Institute, the Amsterdam Economical Board and IXA organize a network session between research and Tech Labs on the one hand and industry and civil organisations on the other hand.
Purpose of the meeting is to strengthen the collaboration between researchers and businesses and (semi) government in realizing concrete cooperation projects in the Amsterdam Metropolitan area.

Knowledge vouchers

For promising collaborations, the Network Institute offers research vouchers with a value of €5,000. The voucher can be used by the scientists for collaborations between business and science.

For more information see the Amsterdam Economical Board…