The mission of the Network Institute is to advance interdisciplinary research on the digital society. Digital technology is changing society. At the same time, new societal problems call for new technological solutions. Digital technologies and societal processes thus become increasingly entwined. To study how both interact, an interdisciplinary approach is called for. The Network Institute aims to facilitate the emergence of such challenging interdisciplinary collaborations.

Recent projects

Virtually bad: Exploring the idea of “consequential” virtual agents

This project introduces the concept of “consequential” virtual bad guys: intelligent virtual agents that may actually impose harm on the user. A consequential agent was developed by equipping users with a device, through which they believed the agent could mildly shock them (in fact, the device was an innocent GSR sensor). Effects on participants’ anxiety and (physiological and self- reported) stress were measured. The technology created for this project is currently being used in a aggression training program for public transport officers. Researchers: Tibor Bosse, Tilo Hartmann, Romy Blankendaal, Nienke Dokter, Marco Otte.

A Probabilistic Approach to Linguistic Variation and Change in Biblical Hebrew

This project addresses the longstanding problem of linguistic dating of the Psalms. A research group consisting of computer scientists and theologists investigates the novel idea of analyzing psalm texts by elaborating on techniques and concepts from the analysis of social networks. Specifically, a probabilistic model (Markov chain) will be developed that captures the linguistic structure of the ‘textual network’.

Supporting the assessment of language impairment in bilingual children

This project aims to develop a knowledge base (KB), in a co-creation between computer scientists and applied linguists, collecting relevant information on the specificities of 60 different home languages (normal and atypical language development), and on contrastive analyses of any of these languages with Dutch. When diagnosticians have access to such specific information on the language development in the home languages of these children, this will tremendously help in the diagnostic process.

Mapping the public debate on food waste

The aim of this project is to map the public debate on food waste between 2012 and 2017. It will focus on the framing of food waste in newspaper articles and show how consumers, producers, supermarkets and NGOs/SMs are portrayed in the media. Leveraging automated content analysis techniques, social and semantic network maps will be produced, showing how the framing of food waste in the public debate changed over time, and tracing the relative positioning of the different stakeholders.