Category Archives: Activity


This week, Arianna and Anders are representing NERDS at ICWSM in Buffalo, NY, with two freshly-published papers.

  1. Narratives of Collective Action in YouTube’s Discourse on Veganism, by A. Pera and L.M. Aiello. ICWSM’24.

    We studied vegan narratives on YouTube through the lens of a theoretical framework of moral narratitves. We studied how different narratives elicit different types of responses from video commenters, and found that videos advocating social activism are the most effective at stirring reactions marked by heightened linguistic markers that relate to collective action.
  2. The Persuasive Power of Large Language Models by A.G. Møller and L.M. Aiello. ICWSM’24.

    Can artificial agents interact with each other to reproduce human-like persuasive dialogue? And do the arguments they generate sound persuasive to humans? We used Llama2 to test different persuasion strategies, and asked humans to rate them. We found that arguments that included factual knowledge, markers of trust, expressions of support, and conveyed status were deemed most effective according to both humans and agents.

NERDS at Como Summer School and WebSci’24

Arianna and Anders participated to the first editions of the Computational Social Science Summer School in Como, presenting their work on the COCOONS project. Arianna, Daniele, and external collaborator Maddalena Torricelli also attended the WebSci conference in Stuttgard, presenting an analysis of climate action communication on TikTok [paper], the use of hypergraphs to model opinion dynamics in large-scale social media [poster], and the role of interfaces in shaping human creativity during the interaction with generative AI tools [paper].

5 years of NERDS!

NERDS was founded 5 years ago by three young assistant professors and one associate professor, to be a reference point at ITU for the research on network and data science applications to social systems. At 5 years old, we have learned to write our name (we have a logo), to follow rules, and to use a fork and knife for eating. And hoo boy, did we use that fork last friday when celebrating our anniversary with an original NERDS cake!

We also got new group photos taken (by Sebastian Mateos Nicolajsen – thx!), see below, because we have grown to 20+ members over the years! For all bean counting aficionados, we also won over 5M EUR of research funding and published 84 papers so far.

Further highlights, shown in the timeline above. We:

Looking back to our goals 5 years ago, we have all reason to be proud to have 1) built up a flourishing network of Denmark-based network/data science research groups, connecting ITU, KU, DTU, and others, 2) successfully impressed several funding agencies and public stakeholders to engage with us solving societal problems with our research. We will continue along this road, developing further our group in a safe and fun environment.

In our near future, we look forward to welcoming several new group members in the fall, including one assistant professor and several PhDs/Postdocs.

Live long and prosper 🖖
Luca, Luigi, Roberta, Claudia, Anastassia, Jacob, Vedran, Sandro, Anders, Michele, Anders 2, Ane, Toine, Mesut, Luca 2, Michael, Arianna, Clement, Elisabetta, Alessia, Jacopo, Daniele, Nicoló

NERDS back from D3A conference

Last week several of us NERDS took part in the first D3A conference in Nyborg, where an astonishing 500 data scientists from all around Denmark met to discuss the latest research in the field.

The Danish Digitalization, Data Science and AI (D3A) is a new national conference hosted by Pioneer Centre for AI (P1), Danish Data Science Academy (DDSA), and Digital Research Center Denmark (DIREC). 

While most of us just enjoyed the company and the scientific inspirations in a perfectly organized setting, two of us also presented actively: Sandro presented a poster on science & gender, while Ane co-organized the workshop “An interdisciplinary dive into Climate IT”, presenting our research on bicycle networks.

Here a few visual impressions from our trip:

We hope to see you in future editions of the conference, the next one coming up in October.

Report from our latest Nightingale Network meeting

It has taken us almost 2 years, but we finally managed to co-organize a new Nightingale Network meeting yesterday!

The Nightingale Network brings together faculty, postdocs, and students based in Denmark who share an interest in Computational Social Science, Complex Systems, and Network Science.

The gathering of around 30 researchers took place in the top, 15th floor of the colossal Maersk tower, where we held IC2S2 earlier this year. With many new faces joining all our groups in Denmark, again many new social ties were forged and old ties strengthened, making full use of our nerdy open-source party-games: (including a new one by main organizer Laura)

Here the press-shots of the winners in the three games Bingo (Arianna), Nerdgame (Ben, last nerd standing – with a very consistent outfit), and the new Six degrees of wikipedia (Mirko, Arianna, Pantelis, Peter, Sandro):






If you are from Denmark (or closeby) and share our research interests, please reach out to us if you want to be part of the next meeting!

Another smashing DataBeers Copenhagen, with 170 participants

Four years after we brought DataBeers to Denmark, another successful event was held this week in Copenhagen!

DataBeers is a global not-for-profit initiative active in dozens of cities worldwide, that brings data scientists and data enthusiasts from industry, government, academia and the arts to knowledge share. The DataBeers teams organise events and invite speakers to tell their experience with data: analysis, visualisations, applied data, data journalism etc., always in an informal and agile manner.

This week’s event was again co-organized by NERDS (especially Sandro and Arianna), and also featured Michael as one of the speakers with a magic-themed talk on “Stories from 1001 paths (over Dybbølsbro)” – slides available here [pdf]:

The event had a fantastic vibe, great speakers, and a psyched audience including many ITU students. Apart from the four speakers from academia and industry, it also featured a scientific presentation karaoke. Here some visual impressions from the event, which this time took place in Absalon, a locally famous church-turned-into-community-center:

DataBeersCPH has now grown to accommodate 170 participants, with the event’s free tickets having become sold out one week before the event, mainly through word-of-mouth. The event’s free beers and its venue were charitably sponsored by the DDSA, DTU, ITU, and KU.

Here’s two cheers for many more successful DataBeers in Copenhagen to spread our love for data and science (and beers)! 🍻 🍻

Roundup of NERDS at IC2S2

This year’s IC2S2, the 9th International Conference on Computational Social Science is now over, and it was a smashing success! The conference brought together over 700 people from dozens of countries, doubling in size compared to the previous edition. With 50% PhD and 30% Postdoc participants, the Computational Social Science community is young and refreshingly open, which could also be seen from the diversity of keynote speakers, spanning from evolutionary biologists to tourism/transport researchers. This community is the opposite of calcified – rather, it brought together experts and ideas from different fields for a true, unpolitical exchange and cross-pollination. This is how science should be done.

We fully echo the sentiments of the president of the new International Society for Computational Social Science (ISCSS), Duncan Watts, who concluded in the IC2S2 town hall meeting: We don’t have clear boundaries. Whoever identifies as computational social scientist should come to IC2S2.

NERDS played a significant role at IC2S2. We co-organized the conference, chaired several sessions, held a successful tutorial, and gave 2 lightning talks, 7 parallel talks, and presented 13 posters. See the full list of our activities here: NERDSIC2S2.PDF

Finally, let us share our visual impressions of NERDS@IC2S2:

See you next year at IC2S2 2024 in Philadelphia!

Catch us at IC2S2!

Besides co-organizing the conference and chairing several sessions, NERDS are omnipresent with events and activities at this year’s IC2S2, the 9th International Conference on Computational Social Science. In fact, we will give 2 lightning talks, 7 parallel talks, and present 13 posters, apart from having organized today’s successful tutorial on Geospatial Data Science:

See here a full list where you can catch us for the rest of the week: NERDSIC2S2.PDF

Enjoy Copenhagen and IC2S2!

NERDS/CSH-organized workshop on sustainable mobility in Vienna

Last week we, Michael Szell and Anastassia Vybornova, together with Rafael Prieto Curiel from Complexity Science Hub Vienna, held a workshop on sustainable mobility in Vienna, Austria, featuring some of the top local experts on the topic: Vienna’s cycling coordinator Martin Blum, and the researchers Anita Graser, Barbara Laa, Ulrich Leth.

The event featured 7 talks (2 from NERDS) and many thought-provoking discussions, see a nice summary here:

The workshop covered the following aspects:

Why are politicians so reluctant to invest into bicycle infrastructure and pedestrianization given it is the most efficient investment towards sustainable and livable cities? What are the technical and political bottlenecks that keep society in the stranglehold of car dependency, and what are the implications of sustained delay? Which data are we missing, how should we grow network infrastructure, and how to speed up the sluggish political process? The climate crisis demands pressing answers, which we explore here with state-of-the-art insights in Data/Network/Complexity Science and Urban Planning.

This workshop brings together researchers and policymakers from Vienna and Copenhagen who work on understanding the best pathways towards sustainable mobility with focus on cycling, or who are developing tools/methods supporting that aim. Our speakers will cover: Mobility and infrastructure data quality, bicycle network planning, politics & activism, systemic complexity approaches.

DataBeers Copenhagen is back!

Copenhagen’s third DataBeers edition was held this wednesday, more than 3(!) years after the first two editions before COVID-19. The event was once again a smashing success, with around 90 participants, 5 excellent speakers from academia and industry, one surprise data rapper, and a large number of hoppy beverages consumed.

Huge thanks to the wonderful new team of DataBeersCPH organizers, including  Silvia de Sojo Caso, Jonas Juul, NERDS-member Sandro Sousa, and many more! Their hard work paid off – the location and vibe were absolutely amazing.

DataBeers is a global not-for-profit initiative (currently in 31+ cities), that brings data scientists and data enthusiasts from industry, government, academia and the arts to knowledge share. The DataBeers teams organise events and invite speakers to tell their experience with data: analysis, visualisations, applied data, data journalism etc., always in an informal and agile manner.

This last Copenhagen edition was sponsored by ITU and DTU. We are always happy about sponsors, especially for beer – talk to us at
The next DataBeers Copenhagen is scheduled for Spring 2023. Follow us at @databeers_cph for updates. Stay tuned, and cheers! 🍻