As for the previous year, we asked the students to identify a controversy related to each of their topics. Through digital methods, a specific kind of research that treats the Internet as a mirror of society, they identified from whom and how a particular topic is debated. Each group analyzed its own controversy, identifying actors and threads of discussion. They therefore created a visual report based on collected data.

The assignment aim is to give a primer both on the use of Internet based research strategies and the use of visual devices, a process that gives the possibility to take profit both from quantitative and qualitative research methods. We explored how to give a meaning to heterogeneous data using pre-existing digital tools and developing new ones when necessary.


We tried to find a theme that was close to our everyday life, somehow which we could contribute in a concrete way. We decided to address the subject of debate on “bottled water”. After realizing that the situation was unmanageable at a global scale, we decided to focus on a specific case (Cascade Locks, Oregon USA) to see better and more closely the dynamics of the dispute. For example, at first we thought that the problem was just an ethical matter, but after carefull observation, we noticed that in reality, it was also environmental, political and economic.
Monitoring reports that the case of Cascade Locks had opened against former U.S. cases, we discovered how all these individual cases formed a network of similar discussions quoting each other, and how these, in turn, constitute the dynamic nodes of a global network that fuel the discussion from time to time, increasing the volume of the dispute on the sale of bottled water around the world.

Project by:
Bruna Cirincione
Andrea Ferrari
Alessandro Dondero
Mariolina Suglia
Cosimo Torsoli


“Virtual water” is the volume of freshwater involved in the process of production of a product. If a country exports a water-intensive product to another country, it also exports water in virtual form. This is Virtual Water trade. Maybe, the right balance between import and export of virtual water could be a solution for water scarsity. It is true? This is our controversy.In order to map this controversy, we defined a protocol organized as follows.
We defined a corpus of 50 web pages and 15 scientific papers through Google research of “Virtual Water Trade”.
Then we made a geolocalization of web pages in order to map the “speakers” of virtual water trade, and we analyzed their different perspectives, defining the types of web sites involved.
After we made an analysis of scientific papers finding the most cited authors and countries, in order to map the controversy even in the scientific research since very important for this theme.
The aim of our work is to understand and analyze the debate about this controversy in the scientific field, thanks to an overall visualization that shows the relevance of different papers, the countries that are potentially more involved in the issue and especially clarifies the different points of view of papers about the controversy.

Project by:
Silvia Acerbi
Paola Berardelli
Lorenzo Bertè
Samantha Pietrovito
Irene Zocco


An environmental refugees or migrants is a person that has to move from his/her home because of climate change. The core questions at the basis of this work are:

Who Talks About The Controversy?
Which Islands Talks About The Controversy?
What Are The Actors Talking About?
What Are The Islands Talking About?
Are The Islands Talking About Themselves?
Are There Some Differences If The Debate Is About Migrants Rather Than Refugees?

The answers came out from the analysis of a mechanism of mutual comparison in search of differences and common features.
From the research came out the informations expected. Medias use more the term “refugees” and maybe because of its impact on the feelings of the reader and its capacity to attract the attention to the fact that those people are forced to leave their homes. But under this use there is a lack of a broader view of the problem, favouring sensationalism to the detriment of the complexity of the topic.

Project by:
Marco Agosta
Elisa Angelico
Michele Crivellaro
Federica D’Urzo
Elisa Raciti


This digital research aims to analyze the situation that affects several similar dams throughout the world.
Initially we have identified the controversy over the Three Gorges Dam; than ten dams with the same features, located throughout the world, have been identified and also the involved actors have been identified.
The key to reading the research is the comparison between the data. After an initial search on the various entities we’re compared them with each other. The geographical locations of the sources have been taken into consideration so that we could make graphical view that would help to read better the data matched.
The tools, we’ve used, are:, Wikipedia, Harvester, Alchemy, Geo IP, IssueGeographer and Alexa. The first were used to make a semantic search for every dam, instead Geo IP and IssueGeographer have identified the local position from which the IPs come.
All this was done to try to answer the question: “Identify the problems related to the Three Gorges Dam, which is the network of interests that is created around the system of dam in the world?”

Project by:
Matilde Arduini
Rossella Ermacora
Giulio Fagiolini
Emanuele Marsura
Giulia Minacciolo


The controversy raised from the proposal behind the project of the “Cape Wind” wind farm has shown its characteristics in a large part of the American web information during the last ten years. The plan of 130 offshore wind turbins to be built in Nantacket Sound, has caused a large debate involving different parts of society, in particular from the local view of Massachussets population, to the wide communications of the national communication networks.
The analysis is interested in understanding the dynamics of this event, paying attenction to the components of the “struggle”, the formations creating from the frame, their main issues and reasons, starting from a critical reading of selected documents and going on exploring the data availability on the web, helped by some digital tools like, Alchemy, Gephi and others.
Collecting and revisualizing these data results has permitted to think about and discover the way how different sources of information deal with different problems according to their position inside the debate.

Project by:
Filippo Donisi
Lorenzo Fantetti
Federica Fragapane
Emanuele Luppino
Francesco Majno


Our research goal is to monitor the Environmental Vegetarianism theme within the network, the only medium in which you can find the highest quantity of contents on this topic.
It was necessary for us to show how different social spheres interact, discuss and cooperate in the network, in order to explain the Environmental Vegetarianism theme.
The only way to succeed was to analyze particular sites, which mediate or refer to the same topics and cover different areas.
The first step was to build a research protocol with many tools. It returns a global view of the case analyzed.
The research results show that within each website or sphere there is a strong imbalance on the data’s distribution.

Project by:
Eleonora Cattaneo
Lara Caputo
Andrea Larghi
Enrico Luparello
Anna Menegolli


Uncontrolled human activities lead to climate change and global warming; which can be linked to the frequency and magnitude of extreme weather events.
The Floods that took place in Pakistan last year are considered as one of the worst natural disasters in recent history.
We noticed that there was a controversy about meteorological agencies, which didnít make the correct forecast in advance and the government was slow to respond with relief operations. Donor countries, moreover, get suspicious because of the corruption of the government and the aids to the Taliban.
Our protocol aims to understand the complex relations that are established in the economic, politic and social fields when a natural disaster strikes. Also it is focused on the geo-localization and visualization of all the part involved in this issue.
By the use of specific tools we took data about actors and main themes, and then we visualized them making some reflections: barely hidden beneath the flood event there were a lot of geopolitical stakes.

Project by:
Veronica Caglio
Elena Conchetto
Veronica Frisicaro
Santiago Villa
Dian Wei


Our field of research is coral bleaching, phenomenon that forecast the expulsion from the coral of the zoexanthellae, a seaweed with whom he lives in symbiosis and which gives him color and nourishment. Initially, the controversy that arises regarding this issue is scientific: some scientists sustain that the death of the coral is inevitable and that we have to do something, while others are more optimistic; however the problem involves other levels of discussion, from the governmental to the economical one.
The focus of the project was the investigation of the governmental scope, because of its transversality, since its political actions towards the fate of corals lead to the subsequent discussions of response.
Using the tools at our disposal, we tried to investigate more thoroughly this interconnection between governments and other actors interested in the issue, mapping the virtual and physical places where the dispute takes place. We investigated which platforms handle the issue of coral bleaching on the Internet, then we focused on how the various sources of information on the subject connect with the governmental one, then we made the contents of the examined sites came out and compared the results obtained in the different areas; then we investigated whether there is a common communicative sphere. Finally we deepen the geographical issue.
The protocols used were essentially three, Crawler for relationships, Alchemy for semantic areas and Geo IP to identify the areas of geographic interest.
What emerged from our research is that we can reach a conclusion on two different levels: analyzing the relationships we saw that the governmental scope has relations especially with himself, while the items mentioned more related to the controversy belong mainly to the scientific sphere, followed by the governmental one, with the presence of some geographic poles both for those interested in the issue whether those mentioned about it.

Project by:
Stefania Guerra
Michela Lazzaroni
Roberto Scotti
Ilaria Segreto
Jlenia Vertemara


Deforestation is one of the main causes of atmosphere’s Co2 increase. REDD is an initiative of climate change mitigation that provides investment of funds in forest protection towards developed and developing countries.
Funds management, fund receivers, human rights of indigenous people and the still unresolved question about ethical use of carbon credits represent just a glimpse of internal disputes to the program REDD.
From a first overview and analysis, it became clear that geography plays a main role in REDD’s macro-controversy.
A new map about REDD was then conceived around three main questions: Which countries talk about REDD ? Which countries are named in REDD’s discussion ? How REDD is discussed in all these countries ?
To answer these questions geo-localization and semantic analysis was applied to web pages talking about these controversies.
The goal is to understand countries’ voices and relations that occur in discussing these nations, and to finally confront every country about the on-going “REDD’s discussion”.

Project by:
Lorenzo Aprigliano
Achile Calegari
Guido Chiefalo
Alex Piacentini
Giacomo Traldi
Laura Varisco


The increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is a main cause of climate change.
CO2 emissions are extremely harmful for both the environment and the human health: according to statistics of the WHO, they directly increase cardiorespiratory diseases, and increasing temperature they cause a proliferation of vector and water borne diseases.
Australia is the first CO2 pro capital producer in the world; in November 2011 the majority of the Australian Parliament headed by the PM Julia Gillard has approved the law that prices the CO2 emissions.
This politic measure generated much controversy across the country: most of the population think this tax is just an excessive burden on the family outcomes, without a real help for the environment. Other people consider the carbon tax as the only resolution for a better and cleaner planet in the future.
The aim of this report is to analyse this tax and tell australian population’s positive and negative reactions with their reasons, and to visualize the results with graphs.
To pick up and analyse the necessary data for the reaserch it has been used the tool Harvester from, the tool Alchemy API, and a lot of manual work.

Project by:
Federica Conversano
Lucia Palombi
Irene Murrau
Giulia Spruzzola
Clara Zorzoli


The polar regions are very sensitive environments, and growing numbers of cruise ships, taking passengers on ‘nature-based’ and ‘ecofriendly’ trips, put these regions increasingly under pressure.
While they claim to increase the awareness over the climate change impacts on Antarctica, educating the tourist as an ìambassadorî of the value of nature, researchers and environmentalists criticize their growing presence in the territory: more cruises means more risks for the ecosystem.
Institutions should have a primary role in the debate, suggesting severe laws regulating antarctic tourism.
Starting from a corpus of websites concerning our topic, we explored all in-links and out-links of our network to map it, finding clusters of actors and their connections. In addition, we extracted a list of keywords to define which are the most discussed arguments and compare their importance for each actor. A last analysis focused on the citation network of a corpus of paper written by the academic community; the aim was to define the most relevant authors and their point of view.
The final result is a complete representation of the controversy, which confirmed some of the ideas we had in the beginning but also allowed us to discover unexpected connections between actors.
The research method and the particularly complex thematic have raised difficulties and perplexities, revealing great potential but also huge gaps of the big data and the digital methods.

Project by:
Stefano Agabio
Marco Bernardi
Paolo Panzuti Bisanti
Alessandro Pomè
Francesco Pontiroli