Digital Media Winter Institute 2020 // SMART Data Sprint // Digital Methods: theory-practice-critique | 27 – 31 January 2020

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.

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 to and benefit from one another’s expertise. We believe that: 1) new approaches for web platform-based 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.

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 2019

SMART Data Sprint 2018

SMART Data Sprint 2017

˚ ˚ Digital Methods: theory-practice-critique ˚ ˚

We are pleased to announce that Tommaso Venturini is joining SMART Data Sprint 2020 with a keynote talk on visual network analysis and practical labs. Venturini is a researcher at the CNRS Centre for Internet and Society. He is also an associate researcher of INRIA and of the médialab of Sciences Po Paris and founding member of the Public Data Lab. We are also very happy to have Bernhard Rieder addressing a keynote on mapping value(s) in artificial intelligenceRieder is an associate professor in New Media and Digital Culture at the University of Amsterdam and a researcher with the Digital Methods Initiative. He is also the author of the forthcoming book “Engines of Order. A Mechanology of Algorithmic Techniques” and well-known for the development and maintenance of research tools for data-driven analysis, such as Netvizz, TCAT (with Erik Borra and Emile den Tex), YouTube Data Tools, MemeSpector, Tumblr Tool, among others.

On the left, a correlation matrix of Google and IBM Vision APIs provided by the affordance of automated image classification. The matrix is an example of repurposing Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning for inquiring both technology and national representations [1]. On the right, an Instagram image-domain network of discrete and imitative forms of bot agency, relying upon full matching images through the “web entities and pages” feature of Google Cloud Vision API [2].

What does the logic of following the medium mean for practising Internet research? How can we reimagine the affordances and limitations of data-intensive web to better understand the ambiguous entanglements of platform society [3]? Which new possibilities for critical analysis can be developed through the online grounding of social and cultural changes under a medium-specific perspective? We dedicate the SMART Data Sprint 2020 to a holistic study of network phenomena by drawing together theory, practice and critique of digital methods.

In addressing the practice of repurposing methods of the medium in conjunction with theory, we follow the proposition of treating data as assemblages of actors, objects and issues that draw together the social, the semantic and the technological [4]. A fundamental aspect of performing research from this standpoint is taking seriously the emergent and relational nature of data practices. In this sense, the experience of collective work with data provided by data sprints is constitutive of how we think media-native studies, not only by using media for research but also by encouraging scholars to critically reflect on the mutable arrangements of the digital through its “storytelling potential” [5].

Rather than focusing on how to take advantage of computational tools, Smart Data Sprint 2020 provides an environment for experimenting with digital methods as critical practices. By inviting participants to engage with the concrete technical, interpretative and conceptual tasks, we put forward a hands-on approach to different forms of knowledge that are mobilized when performing data research as digital bildung [6].

[1] This visualization displays how often the labels occur in the same image. The bluer the cell, the stronger the correlation. Conversely, red cells stand for correlations that are weaker. Analysis by:

Mintz, A., Silva, T., Gobbo, B., Pilipets, E., Azhar, H., Takamistu, H., Omena, J. J., Oliveira, T. (2019). Interrogating Vision APIs. Smart Data Sprint 2019. Universidade Nova de Lisboa. Lisboa.

[2] Node type 1: image. Note type 2: link domain (host). Attributes: full_matching_image_count (1 to 10 different URLs ) to size the images within the network and username to identify accounts responsible for uploading a given (or more) image(s)]. Analysis by:

Omena, J.J., Chao, J., Pilipets, E., Kollanyi, B., Zilli, B., Flaim, G., Sívori, H., van Ruiven, Kim, Rademakers, L., Li, M. & Del Nero, S. (2019). Bots and the black market of social media engagementDigital Methods Initiative Summer School Wiki, University of Amsterdam. Amsterdam.

[3] van Dijck, J., Poell, T. & de Waal, M. (2018). The Platform Society. Public Values in a Connective World. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

[4] Rogers,R. (2013). Digital Methods. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press; Rogers, R. (2019). Doing Digital Methods. London: Sage.

[5] Venturini, T., Bounegru, L., Jacomy, M. & Gray, J. (2017) How to tell Stories with Networks. In M. T. Schäfer & K. van Es (Eds.), The Datafied Society: Studying Culture through Data (pp. 155-169).

[6] Rieder, B., & Röhle, T. (2017). Digital methods: From challenges to Bildung. In M. T. Schäfer & K. van Es (Eds.), The Datafied Society: Studying Culture through Data (pp. 109-124).

˚ ˚ Keynote Talks and Practical Labs ˚ ˚

We are glad to receive Tommaso Venturini (Centre for Internet and Society) and Bernhard Rieder (Amsterdam University and Digital Methods Initiative) with keynote talks and practical labs.

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

» YouTube Research & Ranking Culture
» Charting Collections of Connections in Social Media: Creating Maps and Measures with NodeXL
» Gephi for beginners
» How to work with spreadsheets
» Shaping questions for Trends Studies through Digital Methods
» Raw Graphs for data exploratory analysis
» Data mining and visualisation with R
» Getting to know data extraction + text analysis tools
» Visual Network Analysis
» Building Image-hashtag Networks
» Visual social media analysis
» Studying visual social media through Vision APIs
» Data Beautification
» Natural language processing tools for data analysis and extraction
» When dataviz is ugly

˚ ˚ Projects ˚ ˚

From “tumblr purge” to “female nipples”:  Telling a story of platform censorship critique through memes and digital methods 

Elena Pilipets (Postdoc fellow at the Center for Advanced Internet Studies – CAIS, Bochum, Germany)

Anti-Feminist and Anti-LGBT Discourse in Brazil*

Horácio Sívori (Assistant Professor at the Institute of Social Medicine State University of Rio de Janeiro (IMS/UERJ), and Chair of the Latin American Center on Sexuality and Human Rights, Brazil)

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

Bruno Zilli (Associate researcher at CLAIM/IMS/UERJ, Brazil)

*This project is part of the Feminist Internet Research Network (FIRN), by the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) and the International Development Research Center (IDRC, Canada).

Method maps: accounting for and situating the work with digital tools

Daniela van Geenen (University of Siegen, Locating Media, Germany)

Cross-Platform Digital Networks: Exploring the narrative affordances 

of force-directed layouts and data relational nature 

Janna Joceli Omena (Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal)

Inês Amaral (Universidade de Coimbra, Portugal)

˚ ˚ Preparation ˚ ˚

We strongly suggest all participants watch web tutorials about data extraction and data mining tools, as well as visualization software. We also recommend visiting the following links: NetlyticCortext médialab toolsDMI toolsRaw, 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 ImagesDownThemAll, and GrabThemAll, may also be helpful.

Check also the very helpful video tutorials made by Bernhard Rieder:

Five Things to know before starting with Digital Methods

Basic Text Analysis with WORDij

Combine and Analyse Co-Hashtag Networks with Gephi

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

˚ ˚ Applications, Tuition Fee and Logistics ˚ ˚

To fill the application form please click on the link below:


In case you are not able to complete your registration, please let us know by sending an email to smart.inovamedialab[at]

Applications Dates & Tuition Fees
Applications opens at Deadline for Applications Tuition Fee **
1 October 2019 13 January 2020 EUR 370,- [all participants]

EUR 320,- [NOVA students]

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

**After your application is accepted and the bank transfer made, please note that there will be no refund of the tuition fee.

˚ ˚ Scholarship ˚ ˚

We understand that the academic journey can be tough in financial terms, and accounting this scenario, SMART Data Sprint offers four scholarships to cover part of the tuition fee expenses and accommodation. 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 fill the application form please click on the link below:


In case you are not able to complete your registration, please let us know by sending an email to smart.inovamedialab[at]

Scholarship Schedule
Applications open at Applications close at Final Selection Tuition Fee
15 October 2019 10 December 2019 20 December 2019 EUR 80,-

About SMART 

SMART is an applied research group of iNOVA Media Lab specialised in Social Media Research Techniques. The central idea of SMART lies in social media methods with the intention to build new data-driven research techniques to social science and humanities, and, in parallel, to engage with (and learn from) device culture.

About INOVA Media Lab

iNOVA Media Lab is an applied research laboratory at NOVA FCSH, and part of the NOVA Institute of Communication (IC NOVA). iNOVA Media Lab is devoted to an interdisciplinary convergence of digital media and emerging technologies. The lab is organized around six research lines: immersive and interactive narrative, information visualization, digital methods and web platforms, science communication, digital journalism and the future of education.


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

Rieder, B., & Röhle, T. (2017). Digital methods: From challenges to Bildung. In M. T. Schäfer & K. van Es (Eds.), The Datafied Society: Studying Culture through Data (pp. 109-124).

Rogers, R. (2019). Doing Digital Methods. London: Sage.

van Dijck, J., Poell, T. & de Waal, M. (2018). The Platform Society. Public Values in a Connective World. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Venturini, T., Bounegru, L., Jacomy, M. & Gray, J. (2017) How to tell Stories with Networks. In M. T. Schäfer & K. van Es (Eds.), The Datafied Society: Studying Culture through Data (pp. 155-169).

Venturini, T., Jacomy, M., Jensen, P. (2019) What do we see when we look at networks an introduction to visual network analysis and force-directed layouts. eprint arXiv:1905.02202 (forthcoming)

Digital Media Winter Institute
SMART Data Sprint 2020
Digital Methods: theory-practice-critique
27 – 31 January 2020
9:30 – 18:00  |  #SMARTdatasprint | Research Blog |
Facebook Group: SMART Data Sprint | @iNOVAmedialab
Universidade Nova de Lisboa | NOVA FCSH | iNOVA Media Lab