Troll factory – simulate your troll’s network

Months ago I found this game/simulation: Troll Factory. Produced by Yle & Yle News Lab to promote awareness on how fake news factories work by relying on bots, misinformation, and levering on emotions, fears, and stereotypes.

The specific theme of the web game/simulation is around immigration, and it uses examples of authentic social media content. The theme of the game was chosen by Yle based on background research their data shows that anti-immigration material is circulating widely in Europe, North America and Asia. Continuing information operations around immigration using fake news, internet memes and the polarization of public discourse are systematic and organized.

This very well resembles, or at least sheds some light on, La Bestia (The Beast) di M. Salvini italian far-right/populist ‘politician’. As it was also explained on this video/inquiry (only in Italian):

La Bestia di Salvini has had a lot of traction during the last 4-5 years (2015-2019), in particular during the years when Lega and Salvini entered government and could rely on both visibility and easier (and according to some unlawful) access to public funding, as well as on the perceived, yet non-existing, ’emergency’ of migrants’ invasion on Italian coasts.

Here a couple of articles (in Italian) focusing on La Bestia:

1- Da Facebook a Twitter. La task force del “capitano” detta l’agenda del web

2- La propaganda social di Matteo Salvini ora la paghi tu: e ci costa mille euro al giorno

Stuff in space

An interesting, and at the same time irritating, visualization of stuff gravitating around our planet. Much of this stuff consists of actual functioning satellites, but as you can see, most of it is just debris and pieces of rockets.

Stuff in space

Stuff in Space is a realtime 3D map of objects in Earth orbit, visualized using WebGL. The website updates daily with orbit data from and uses the excellent satellite.js Javascript library to calculate satellite positions.

This reminds me of both the Story of Stuff project/movie and of Musk’s car thrown into space just for the sake of it.

By SpaceX – Falcon Heavy Demo Mission, CC0,

The Uber game

Things under the ‘gig economy’ (or within platform capitalism) change very rapidly, and I do not know to what extent the parameters of the game created by the Financial Times about Uber are still sound. I guess that by and large conditions of gig workers have not improved, although everywhere in US and EU, single States are trying to better regulate, in a way or another (e.g. California passes Ab5 act; ruling of Employment Appeal Tribunal in UK), platform’s management of their workers and the rights/conditions they provide them with.

It is interesting enough, though, to try out and experience a typical working week of an Uber driver.

Can you make it in the Gig Economy?

…I cannot.

Commons and P2P – A structured bibliography

Peer-to-Peer Foundation (Ira Mollay and Michel Bauwens, in particular) has finalized a structured bibliography focusing on Peer-to-Peer (P2P) and the Commons.

A very valuable and interesting resource for anyone interested and/or working on commons. It includes nearly 500 items (peer-reviewed articles) clustered along 6 chapters.

Structured Bibliography on P2P and the Commons.

Switching social

Often we complain about Facebook, Google, YouTube and other platforms, and even more often people believe that everybody keeps using them, because there are no valid alternatives.

That is not true, and here at Switching Social they have collected a thorough list of alternatives to the most used and renowned social media/platforms. As clarified in their FAQ: these alternatives, while not perfect, have a much better configuration or design with regards to users’ privacy and the underlying ‘business models’ (steering clear from typical venture capitalist ones).

The list also exist in French, Italian, German, and Turkish.

Event – The Long Now of the Commons – 17th October 2019

My current project is soon coming to an end, and during the last few weeks, I have been busy organizing a final outreach event that relates to it. Only small details remain to be sorted out now. The large bulk of work has been done, and I am fairly sure that with all the diverse contributions hosted during the event we will have a very interesting day.

Here, you can find more information on:

The Long Now of the Commons – People, Infrastructures and Dilemmas

17th October 2019, 9.00-16.30, IT University of Copenhagen

The event will gather contributions by internationally renowned researchers and practitioners experts in the topic. Attendance is free and open to anyone interested.

If you plan to attend, please remember to register on eventbrite.

Treedom platform

Yesterday, I stumbled upon Treedom for the first time (despite existing since 2010). An Italian platform/project addressing reforestation work in a sustainable and ethical way.

Treedom allows you to choose a type of tree and pick a few locations worldwide where to plant it in. Local farmers are then enrolled and paid via the platform to take care of planting the trees, which are geo-tagged and monitored via the platform.

They also have a wealth of information and side projects revolving around CO2 emission, sustainable development goals and the like.

A very interesting commoning project/platform.

Interest group on commons/-ing at ITU, Copenhagen

In connection with my work on the ISSP project and with the help of colleague Joanna Saad-Sulonen, during the last months we activated an informal interest group around the topic of commons and commoning. While based (for practical logistic reasons) at IT University of Copenhagen, the group is open to anyone. The main goal of the group is to provide a venue for students, scholars, and practitioners to gather together and exchange ideas, ongoing works, collaboration, or simply to know more about commons and commoning.

The main activity through which the group has operated during spring 2019 has been that of a monthly reading group. Here, we spanned the vast literature around commons that exist in fields ranging from social sciences, economics, computer science, participatory design, urban planning, and more, in order to find interesting and provoking texts to read and discussed together. Students, researchers, junior and senior scholars has attended the meetings at ITU and when possible also joined remotely over video conferencing systems.

The group is currently on hold for the summer break, but we have already started brainstorming on the possible activities for the next term, and we will resume very soon with similar activities.

If you are interested, you can read a bit more about it on the Interest Group blog.

Some examples of sustainability challenges: the case of OpenStreetMap

During the last weeks, through my twitter feed, I stumbled upon a few posts by an acquaintance of mine, who is heavily involved in the Italian community of OpenStreetMap (OSM): the collaborative, free, editable map of the world. These posts, commented below, show some of the challenges that OSM is facing; and they also inspired this post, which in no way intends to be exhaustive 1.

Of course, the challenges of sustainability for online collaborative commons have many faces. Furthermore, each commons is unique and different from any other, thus it’s quite difficult to pinpoint what are the fundamental aspects or issues that must be considered when trying to support their sustainability. However, by looking at ‘infrastructural breakdowns’ (as I would call them, by borrowing from STS vocabulary) as they are realized, handled and perceived in the commons, by the commons, I think is possible to start characterizing them. However, first of all, is quite important to be able to recognize them.

These, I argue, are some relevant sustainability challenges which OSM is facing.

  • OSMF Request for Proposals: Data Centre 2018 – hosting for the whole technical infrastructure is usually donated to OSM. Every once in a while, the whole system needs to find a new ‘home’. Recently, OSM Foundation issued a call for donation of hosting space to keep the infrastructure running during the next three years.
  • OSM and Gender – Invitation to Online Discussion – basically, any collaborative project suffer, to a certain degree, of some form of exclusion (e.g. marginalization or discrimination) or even abuse of power (e.g. bullying and harassment) that are  based on gender or ethnicity. OSM is no different and, improving gender balance in the participants pool, it is something that many there are trying to understand and tackle.
  • Why OpenStreetMap is in Serious Trouble – as many other contemporary web-based and complex services, also OSM needs to constantly evolve and scale to remain relevant. That is to say to remain useful, used, and supported by many. However, according to one core long time contributor, there are several socio-technical aspects in OSM that are crucial in this regard and need being faced for the project to survive 2.

At the frontstage, many people worldwide praise, use and rely on OSM as an alternative free and open online service for geographical data and information. However, in the backstage, many volunteer mappers, system hackers and designers continuously, face challenges that might undermine the long term viability of the system as a whole. This, of course, does not come as a surprise to them, but it deserves more attention also at the frontstage.

Old website is back online thanks to Drupal community

Long story short: the old website/blog used during my PhD research is now finally back online and credit for this goes to Drupal community support!

It will not be updated, but at least the content is accessible (although expect to find some broken links, here and there). See this page, here.


Longer story is quite simple.

For several reasons, I adopted WordPress for the main website installed on mydomain and I had planned to restore the old PhD website into a subdomain.

I knew I had all the backups I’d need, but I did not come to terms with the implications of having to different sites on the same host and, more importantly, with the fact that the latest version, running on my old website, it is now unmaintained and ‘out of production’.

My lack of sound understanding of CMS, together with the fear of testing too much on live environments (which I know I shouldn’t do), and more importantly, the lack of time put me a bit in despair at a certain point. However, after having managed to find the proper documentation and understood a little better where the problem could lie, I turned to the Drupal community forum for support. In less than a week, the old website is finally up.

Here, the Support request thread. Thanks Jenna