Social media updates: 1000 Twitter followers and Mastodon account

We have reached 1000 Twitter followers, around 3.5 years after having created our profile at: 🐦

To celebrate, we have also created a Mastodon account: 🐘 
For now we are cross-posting between Twitter and Mastodon (and aim to be reactive in both environments), so no matter where you follow us you will receive the same info and be able to stay in touch.

If you like our research, or are interested in our events, job opportunities, or news, make sure to follow us. Happy tweeting/tooting!  

Two new NERDS urban planning papers: COVID-19 vs. urban form and Micromobility network planning

We are on an urban planning streak, publishing two new papers in Environment and Planning B:

  1. Urban form and COVID-19 cases and deaths in Greater London: An urban morphometric approach, by A. Venerandi, L.M. Aiello, and S. Porta, published in Environment and Planning B

    The COVID-19 pandemic generated a considerable debate in relation to urban density. Many urban planners have advocated for rethinking our cities in ways that can decrease built-up density, in order to curb the spreading of future epidemics. In this work, we show that would be a bad idea. We used urban morphometrics to quantify built-up density in Greater London, and studied its relationship with COVID-19 cases and deaths at the level of MSOAs (small neighborhoods with an average population of ~8000). We found that urban density weakly and negatively correlates with both deaths and cases. The picture above (the low-density areas that some think could save us from contagion) shows the typical area in London with highest occurrence of COVID cases. The widespread belief that COVID cases scale with built-up density was supported mostly by city-level studies. The picture changes when comparing different areas within a city, which has been done for the first time in our study. The moral of the story is that built-up density is different from crowding. Let’s keep that in mind before worsening the urban sprawl of our cities. 
  2. Data-driven micromobility network planning for demand and safety, by P. Folco, L. Gauvin, M. Tizzoni, and M. Szell, published in Environment and Planning B

    In this paper we study how data of micromobility trips and crashes can shape and automatize infrastructure network planning processes. We introduce a parameter that tunes the focus between demand-based and safety-based development, and investigate systematically this tradeoff for the city of Turin. We find that a full focus on demand or safety generates different network extensions in the short term, with an optimal tradeoff in-between. In the long term, our framework improves overall network quality independent of short-term focus. Thus, we show how a data-driven process can provide urban planners with automated assistance for variable short-term scenario planning while maintaining the long-term goal of a sustainable, city-spanning micromobility network.
    See the interactive visualization:

NERDS migration: CRBAM 2022, DS’2022, WiNS, Complex Networks 2022, CCS 2022

It is conference season, where NERDS are known to travel to southern wintering grounds to catch some rays of sun and to mingle with NERDS of a feather. Our regular seasonal movements will bring us to several places this year:

  • CRBAM 2022: Ane and Anastassia will present their research on bicycle networks/data at the 6th Annual Meeting of the Cycling Research Board in Amsterdam tomorrow, Oct 6
  • DS’2022: Luca will give a keynote at the International Conference on Discovery Science 2022 in Montpellier on Oct 11 on Coloring Social Relationships
  • WiNS: Roberta will talk about her Pathways in Network Science at the Women in Network Science Seminar on Oct 18
  • Complex Networks 2022: Michele will hold a tutorial on Node Vector Distances, and Marilena will talk about Estimating Affective Polarization on a Social Network, on Nov 7-8 in Palermo

Finally, you will also be able to catch Sandro at CCS 2022 (Conference on Complex Systems), who will represent us in Mallorca from Oct 17-21.

Be sure to check out our event calendar to be up to date on our travel / talk patterns – see you around and safe travels!

New NERDS paper: Urban segregation and random walks

We have a new NERDS paper out by our Postdoc Sandro Sousa. This paper marks his main work from his PhD at Queen Mary University of London, published now:

  1. Quantifying ethnic segregation in cities through random walks by S. Sousa and V. Nicosia, published in Nature Communications

    We propose here a family of non-parametric measures for spatial distributions, based on the statistics of the trajectories of random walks on graphs associated to a spatial system. These quantities provide a consistent estimation of segregation in synthetic spatial patterns, and we use them to analyse the ethnic segregation of metropolitan areas in the US and the UK. We show that the spatial diversity of ethnic distributions, as measured through diffusion on graphs, allow us to compare the ethnic segregation of urban areas having different size, shape, or peculiar microscopic characteristics, and exhibits a strong association with socio-economic deprivation.

Roberta Sinatra becomes Full Professor at Copenhagen University (SODAS)

Today one of our group’s founders, Roberta Sinatra, became full professor, assuming a new position at the Copenhagen Center for Social Data Science (SODAS) at Copenhagen University (KU):

Congratulations to Roberta – very well deserved!

Having been promoted from assistant professor to associate professor just two years ago, Roberta’s new full professor position hallmarks a stellar career. At SODAS Roberta will be steering the center, head its new ethics committee, and be involved in the center’s new MSc programme in Social Data Science, among other things.

Roberta will have a new main workplace at KU’s city campus (Øster Farimagsgade 5), but luckily she will remain affiliated with us NERDS, so we will keep enjoying her expertise and occasional company in the future. To accommodate this change, Michael Szell will take over her role of group coordinator.

We congratulate Roberta and look forward to many fruitful collaborations with KU!

Two new NERDS papers: NFT price dynamics and Online originality

Two new NERDS papers are out – this time both in Scientific Reports:

  1. Heterogeneous rarity patterns drive price dynamics in NFT collections, by A. Mekacher, A. Bracci, M. Nadini, M. Martino, L. Alessandretti, L.M. Aiello & A. Baronchelli, published in Scientific ReportsWe quantify Non Fungible Token (NFT) rarity and investigate how it impacts market behaviour. We show that, on average, rarer NFTs: (i) sell for higher prices, (ii) are traded less frequently, (iii) guarantee higher returns on investment, and (iv) are less risky, i.e., less prone to yield negative returns. The dataset used for the work has been presented as part of a beautiful art exhibition at the MEET Digital Culture Center in Milano.
  2. Posts on central websites need less originality to be noticed, by M. Coscia and C. Vandeweerdt, published in Scientific Reports
    In this paper we study how originality and centrality interact in a nontrivial way, which might explain why originality by itself is not a good predictor of success. We collected data from Reddit on users sharing hyperlinks. We estimated the originality of each post title and the centrality of the website hosting the shared link. We show that the interaction effect exists: if users share content from a central website, originality no longer increases the odds of receiving at least one upvote.
    See more info in Michele’s blogpost:

Two NERDS papers out: Social media flagging and Multimodal transport networks

We published two more papers over the last weeks!

    1. A potential mechanism for low tolerance feedback loops in social media flagging systems, by C.J. Westermann and M. Coscia, published in PLOS ONE

      In this paper we simulate a scenario in which users on one side of the polarity spectrum have different tolerance levels for the opinions of the other side. We create a model based on some assumptions about online news consumption, including echo chambers, selective exposure, and confirmation bias. When studying a model of social media flagging, we see that intolerance is attractive: news sources are nudged to move their polarity to the side of the intolerant users.
      See more info on Michele’s blogpost:

    2. Multimodal urban mobility and multilayer transport networks, by L. Alessandretti, L.G. Natera Orozco, M. Saberi, M. Szell, F. Battiston, published in Environment and Planning B

      This is a comprehensive overview of the emerging research areas of multilayer transport networks and multimodal urban mobility, focusing on contributions from the interdisciplinary fields of complex systems, urban data science, and science of cities. First, we present an introduction to the mathematical framework of multilayer networks. We apply it to survey models of multimodal infrastructures, as well as measures used for quantifying multimodality, and related empirical findings. We review modelling approaches and observational evidence in multimodal mobility and public transport system dynamics, focusing on integrated real-world mobility patterns, where individuals navigate urban systems using different transport modes. We then provide a survey of freely available datasets on multimodal infrastructure and mobility, and a list of open source tools for their analyses. Finally, we conclude with an outlook on open research questions and promising directions for future research.

IC2S2 2023 in Copenhagen!

Copenhagen will host the 9th edition of the International Conference of Computational Social Science (IC2S2) in July 2023, brought here by NERDS & Co!

IC²S² is the premier annual meeting bringing together researchers from different disciplines interested in using computational and data-intensive methods to address societally relevant problems.

The event will be organized jointly between the IT University of Copenhagen (ITU), the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), and the University of Copenhagen (KU). NERDS will have a crucial role in the organization: Luca Aiello will be General Co-Chair, Roberta Sinatra will be Program Co-Chair, and NERDS will be heavily involved in organization and connecting conference participants. The event will take place at the Maersk Tower, a fabulous venue in the heart of the city.

The Maersk Tower in Copenhagen

All previous editions of the conference have been a great success, with hundreds of participants, and we’ll work hard to go above and beyond with the next edition. The conference will feature around 10 keynote talks, 6 tutorials, 200+ contributed presentations, and a 3-day poster session.

Busy attendees during the last two in-presence conferences in Amsterdam and Chicago.

We’re looking forward to welcoming you in Copenhagen next year!

NERDS is Research Environment of the Year 2022

The Danish Young Academy of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters has chosen out of 62 nominated research environments our research group NEtwoRks, Data, and Society (NERDS) as

Research Environment of the Year 2022

The Academy ceremoniously awarded the title and a prize on June 1st to our group’s nominators, Anastassia and Tiago, who motivated their nomination as follows:

In our group, we openly talk about the struggles of academia, such as stress, high pressure, competitiveness, gender, and racial biases – and about the struggles of our personal lives, such as balancing care duties and research work. As young academics, NERDS is the best company that we could wish for: individuals with curious minds, supporting each other in their personal quests for knowledge and for the betterment of society, which is what ultimately drives us all.

See the Danish Young Academy’s explanation here:
Among other points, they write:

In just 3 years, NERDS has managed to create an exemplary academic environment and unity. The group shows that seniority and large center grants are not necessarily the only prerequisites for a good research environment.  

Given this title, we have been asked about our “secret”. Having experienced our fair share of abusive environments, these seem some reasonable guidelines:

  1. Be nice to each other. Corollary: Surround yourself with the right people, and be very sure to not let toxic people into your environment.
  2. Psychological safety is most important. Mistakes are expected, especially in science. It is normal to get stuck in the cloud and we must support each other through it. Disagreements are expected too, and a diversity of perspectives helps resolve them amicably.
  3. Avoid having one boss. Research groups where one person is in power invites abuse. Keep inequalities to a minimum, make important decisions together.
  4. Make sure people have all the freedom to mingle and build up a support network. This will make them strong and protect them from academia’s harassment networks.

Thank you Anastassia and Tiago for the nomination, thank you all NERDS for being so excellent to each other, thank you to our department head Peter Sestoft for the amazing support and efforts to create a great as possible environment on the department level, and cheers to the Danish Young Academy! 🍸

We will do our best to continue living up to this honorable title.