Thanks to the development of digital methods of research, digital media are considered a source of knowledge rather than just an object of study.
The possibility to access the heterogeneous flows of data and information emerging from the internet could be seen as an innovative method to observe and represent social complex phenomena.
This approach gives us the opportunity to look at the web as a continuous space as part of the real and to consider that social-media contain rich digital data and information to capture, explain and discuss social phenomena.

Several strategies and devices have been developed, such as crawlers and ad hoc research engines acting as epistemological machine, to observe, reassemble and comprehend wide social Complex issues.
The complexity of the problems requires researchers to provide themselves with technical and conceptual tools for understanding the dynamics and the processes which characterize the phenomena.
Where engines look to create ordered lists of relevant sources, the strategy of visualizing information aims to give an overview of a particular system, or make certain relationships visible. In this framework visual models and diagrammatic devices are assumed as operating devices able to describe and unveil the nested and latent connections of a system or of a controversy and as devices to be used in drafting better questions about them,therefore visualizing information can be also used as an effective research tool.
For these reasons we will aim at overcoming some of the limits of the traditional description of social issues by exploiting the potentialities of the information visualization and of the information design to make information more accessible and useful.

The objective of the assignment is to give a primer both on the use of the Internet based research strategy and the use of visual devices offering the possibility to make profit both from quantitative and qualitative research methods. We explored how to give a meaning to heterogeneous data using already exiting digital tools and developing new interactive one.

Personal security

After a first analysis of the theme of personal security from a juridical point of view, the project focuses on citizens: which is the italian citizen’s perception about crimes and uncertainty? How did it change in the course of time? What does it depend on? The macro-aim of this part of the project is then to undestand and analize the possible links existing between the perception of personal security and the effective increase of criminality in our society. The research starts from the definition of five indicators, chosen to observe on the web citizen’s behaviour about personal security. Each indicator is antidote to a specific crime: (self defence devices, anti-theft alarms, security services, self defence courses, life and theft insurances). Does the offer of the product/service change proportionally to the increase (or decrease) of criminality? Specific queries were used to select the first 200 results related to each product or service in Google and in ‘Yellow Pages’. The 200 results were then ‘cleaned’ with Harvester, in order to obtain the pure url (returning hosts and uniques). The returning websites were checked with Google scraper, at a first level, and manually, at a second level, to figure out which websites were actually offering the considered product/service. A range of 60-100 resulting url’s for each indicator was obtained. Using the Wayback machine, it was possible to control when each website was born, the amount of updating per year and when the offer of the product/service started. Results were compared to volume search for the same queries in Google, using Google Insight for Search. The second part of the research foucuses on understanding links and relations between actors of the world of “security services” on the web. With Navicrawler the list of urls was checked again in order to figure out which websites are linked together. Results were then visualized with Gephi: a complex and large net showing effective links between e-markets, portals and governamental institutions is the final result of this part of the research.

Project by:
Federica Bardelli
Alessandro Marino Giuseppe Brunetti
Gabriele Colombo
Giulia De Amicis
Carlo Alessandro Morgan De Gaetano


Nu-clear Power?
Humans use resources provided by environment to produce energy. Such resources are not always enough to satisfy the energy need. Italy imports 85% of its needed energy from foreign countries and, now, the reintroduction of nuclear power is being discussed. For this reason, nuclear power is a relevant and heavily debated topic nowadays in Italy. It’s a cause of uncertainty and controversy among people. The citizen/user is, therefore, our starting point of view for our web research.
There are two main questions which we tried to analyze: what does the user search (and find) on the web? what does the user say?
We defined 6 protocols to research the answers to these questions. At first we used three protocols to understand what the users search and find on the web, in different languages (English, Italian, French, German and Swedish); Google Trends, to obtain search volumes and date of search peaks; Google Scraper, to discover the main discussed topics related to nuclear power in the first 100 results of Google for the query “nuclear power”. The main topic was obtained from specific keywords occurency. We previously defined five groups of keywords, about five topics we considered particularly relevant about nuclear energy. These are costs, health, security, wastes and technology. Wikipedia definition, the first result of Google search. We considered the words count, the kilobyte size and the activity timespan for each article. To answer to the second question: “what do people say on the web about nuclear power?” we used 3 more protocols, and we started from the last of the previous ones: Wikipedia discussions analysis, through which we find the users who partecipated and the relations among them (from the talk page we extract the list of users and ip addresses, with a tool created for the purpose, and then we analyze them with network tools).
However, to discover more about what people say on the web, we have to also consider the activity on social networks such as twitter and facebook.
Twitter: we retrieved English tweets related to nuclear power with TwitterFall and we classified them for opinion (positive or contrary), and also depending on the topics involved, using the same keywords as in the previous protocols. Facebook: we used this last protocol to analyze the the italian recognition about nuclear power online. We analyzed the first 100 groups about nuclear power, and we classified them for opinion, purpose and main topic of discussions. At last we tried to build the links network of the groups.

Project by:
Marco Bonfieni
Chiara Girardelli
Ruijing Li
Manuela Blanca Scarian
Annamaria Andrea Vitali


The national health care system aims to improve the health and lives of citizens through care activities, education and prevention. Italy has a publically owned health system, offering a high level of training for people involved in medical, nursing and research fields. These data emerges in comparison with other countries of the European Union. The system’s professionalism is reflected in the quality of the infrastructure and services offered but as we were browsing thorough the data we had the impression that the health system was revealing geographical differences. So our research was born out of questions like these: are we dealing with a national health care system or are we dealing with a regional or local health care systems? Why these differences? attempts to describe the economic/ welfare issues that revolve around this topic.
Through analysis of the data, supported by the National Insitute of Statistics, we have mapped out a path, that describes the offer made by the public service comparing investments, infrastructure and guaranteed benefits. We have then moved onto the user’s requests, focusing our interest in particular on the perception of the Health service and the most common types of diseases to discover the causes and connections and the complexity that surrounds them. The emerging reality reveals the presence of multiple health systems, with deep territorial differences, at a regional and even provincial level. The overall picture of the system is one of a system structurally complex and fragmented, that is not always clear in its interactions and communications with the citizens.
In order to verify the reasons why people move around Italy in order to receive a medical consultation or treatment we tried to see if there were relevant doctors throughout Italy and observe the possible relationships between the presence of these important figures and the attraction index of particolar cities or italian regions.
Notice and evaluate if the presence of remarkable doctors from a scientific and mediatic point of view could influence this health mobility and push people towards specific health facilities. Besides this we tried to verify if there were important personalities involved in the so called alternative medicines that could maybe influence these migration flows.
That’s how we proceeded. We obtained a list of pathologies and in each we ranked doctors by a scientific and a media visibility. At the same time we repeated the same research methodology and used it in the alternative medicine field.
The final result also comes out of a series of protocols we used, combining a normal google-based research plus other online tools as Google Scholar, Zotero, Scraper, Issue Discovery, Versus and Biomed Expert. With the software Cytoscape we refined , elaborated and visualized the data collected.

Project by:
Felipe Alejandro Ospina Borras
Stefano Cotzia
Jacopo Marcolini
Davide Martinotti
Xuan Wu


We try to search on Twitter the occurrences of news about precarity, because after our focus on young italian job, we got involved in this topic and realized there are no official data about precarity. We want to know how and why people talk about precarity, observing the news they post, in order to visualize the users-post network. How is precarity perceived and what are the hottest topics linked to it, according to people?
People can question the application in order to see which topic is bigger, how many sources refer to each topic, which source is more posted, who posted the sources and the status of each Twitter user.

Project by:
Alessandro Dallafina
Francesco Faggiano
Stefano Greco
Marco La Mantia
Simone Paoli


The Istat’s demographic data tell us that the increase in the number of family units is related to the decrease of the components of each unit. More and more singles, fewer marriages and more live-in partners, the decrease in the birthrate and the increasing divorces are bringing meaningful changes to the traditional family structures. It can be clearly seen how around the traditional idea of family many new typologies of unions, not necessarily in line with the institutions’ point of view, are emerging.
Consequently, some questions may occur: What is the family? Do the definitions of “family” given by dictionaries and insitutions related to the family reflect what people consider as their family?
A web-based analysis has revealed which ones are the meanings of the word “family” in Italy, which ones are the actors who partecipate in the debate and what picture of the situation emerges from such a complex set of opinions.
An early result showed how the term “Family” is somehow abused, or rather dilated at least. Besides that, it was interesting to realize that there are many brand new rising social groups aiming for the same rights that are actually addressed just to the family form recognized by the Italian Constitution, namely the one founded on marrriage. Omosexual couples and singles take part in the debate along with single parents, divorced fathers and live-in partners. The results’ analysis showed that legal issues such as divorce and its consequences, are amongst the most important debating points.
After a semantic analysis on one side and the analysis of the links among the web pages on the other, we were able to pick out the set of actors and concepts related to the “family” issue.
Subsequently, a graph visualization an manipolation software made it possible to display the links between actors and concepts, revealing this way the complex plot of the relationships in the web.

Project by:
Laura Cantadori
Veronica Clarin
Giorgio Mozzorecchia
Tommaso Renzini
Benedetta Signaroldi


We decided to focus on the distinctive features of an area of study (starting from the sixteen areas provided by ISTAT) to understand how they could be related with the satisfaction percentage shown in the first exercise.
This quali-quantitative research has its field of analysis in two opposite actors who have voice in University: students and universities themselves. To do this, we identified students with forums (for the unstructured kind of communication they have, that reflects the way young people use internet) and universities with the Ministerial Files regarding each college and course ( ). What we aim is to understand if these two actors speak the same speech (such as problems, opportunities, etc) or not, if they speak about the same topics, and if it happens, who speaks more about what and how.
In order to visualize similarities and differences in the way the two poles speak about topics, we hypothesized an interactive tool that permits to compare thematic areas, visualize the importance of words through tagclouds and discover the context of a single semantic unit (the phrase it comes from) through word-trees.

Project by:
Monica Diani
Valerio Pellegrini
Tommaso Trojani
Giorgio Roberto Uboldi
Francesco Villa

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