New NERDS papers: Network reorganization, Mastodon migration, News sharing on Facebook

We have three brand new papers out, this time in PNAS, Scientific Reports, and the Journal of Quantitative Description:

  1. Socioeconomic reorganization of communication and mobility networks in response to external shocks, by L. Napoli, V. Sekara, M. García-Herranz, and M. Karsai, published in PNAS

    We analyze mobile phone communication data to investigate the dynamics of network segregation patterns of the same set of people both in terms of mobility and of social communication during the initial wave of COVID-19 in Sierra Leone. Interestingly, we find opposite trends in the network segregation dynamics, characterized overall by simultaneous increase in mobility segregation and reduction in social network segregation. Our results underscore the significance of data-driven studies going beyond single-axis approaches to assess the impact of emergency policies.
  2. Drivers of social influence in the Twitter migration to Mastodon, by L. La Cava, L.M. Aiello, and A. Tagarelli , published in Scientific Reports

    We analyzed the social network and the public conversations of about 75,000 users who migrated from Twitter to Mastodon, as we NERDS did too a year ago, and observed that the temporal trace of their migrations is compatible with a phenomenon of social influence, as described by a compartmental epidemic model of information diffusion. Drawing from prior research on behavioral change, we delved into the factors that account for variations of the effectiveness of the influence process across different Twitter communities.
    Read more in our blog post:
  3. Cracking Open the European Newsfeed, by L. Rossi, F. Giglioetto, and G. Marino, published in Journal of Quantitative Description: Digital Media

    This paper contributes to the ongoing effort to describe and quantify the quality of information that is shared on large social media platforms. We do this by complementing existing research that provided a first quantitative assessment of the quality of the information circulating on Facebook among US users. Leveraging an updated version of the same data source — Meta’s URL Shares Dataset — and replicating much of the methodology, we quantify the trustworthy and untrustworthy links to external websites that have been shared on Facebook in the period between 2019 and 2022 in three major European countries (Germany, France, and Italy). We observe a clear decline in the number of URLs present in the dataset and an increase in the URLs from untrustworthy domains as a percentage of the total URLs shared in a year. This increase seems to be higher in electoral years (in Germany and in Italy) but it does not translate into an increase of Views received from untrustworthy sources.

NERDS calls for papers: Social good, Sustainable mobility, Spatial data science

NERDS are currently involved in co-organizing special issues for societally relevant research.

Here our three open calls for papers:

  1. Complex Systems for Social Good
    Advances in Complex Systems, NERDS co-organizer: Vedran Sekara
    CFP, deadline Dec 15th:
    Data, data science, machine learning, and AI tools and evidence are becoming increasingly important to tackle the complex challenges of climate change, social inequalities, geopolitical crises, migration, and public health emergencies. Complex Systems can provide a robust theoretical framework to address critical operational issues for vulnerable contexts such as replicability and transferability of results, explainability of models, and understanding of the challenges of algorithmic systems and possible biases. This topical issue has the goal of reviewing the potential contributions that Complex Systems can have on creating public value and producing public policy practices.
  2. Spatial Data Science for Planning
    GeoForum Perspektiv, NERDS co-organizer: Ane Rahbek Vierø
    CFP (expression of interest), deadline Jan 15th:
    We invite submissions that align with the themes of Spatial Data Science, encompassing for example Python, R, AI/ML, Business Intelligence, and their integration with geographic data. Authors are encouraged to explore both theoretical and practical aspects, sharing insights, case studies, methodologies, and real-world applications. Accepting both English and Danish contributions.
  3. Urban Mobility and Green Transportation in Sustainable Cities 
    Journal of Physics: Complexity, NERDS co-organizer: Michael Szell
    CFP, deadline May 31st:
    This Focus aims to explore the intersection of physics and complexity in the context of urban mobility and green transportation, shedding light on cutting-edge research that not only elucidates the fundamental principles governing these systems but also offers practical applications to create more sustainable and efficient cities. Regarding the green transportation, it can be any means of travel that does not negatively impact the environment, including (but are not limited to) bikes (dockless or docked sharing ones), ebikes (both private or sharing ones), electric vehicles. A better green transportation would involve both the infrastructure level and human behaviors level.

Please contact us for any questions regarding these calls. Happy writing/submitting!

Roberta wins ERC Consolidator grant!

Wow – Roberta Sinatra just won an ERC Consolidator grant! We congratulate her with all our hearts to this once-in-a-lifetime achievement!

An ERC Consolidator grant comes with 2 million EUR for 5 years and enables “a scientist who wants to consolidate their independence by establishing a research team and continuing to develop a success career in Europe”.

Roberta’s excellence, her interdisciplinarity, and her proposed topic just hit the right nerve:

scAIence: Quantifying AI-infused Science

The goal of scAIence is to quantify whether, how, and with which implications generative AI is changing how scientists write, communicate, and diffuse their science, and to explore rigorously the opportunities, dangers, and implications of scientists augmenting their scientific writing with AI. The focus of scAIence is quantitative and based on large-scale data and controlled experiments, since we lack a systematic analysis of AI-generated science: All our evidence regarding AI-generated writing is anecdotal or based on small case studies.

Within the scAIence project, Roberta and her team will deploy a novel computational social science approach, based on a wide array of quantitative disciplines, leveraging large-scale databases of human-generated information and controlled experiments. scAIence will break new ground by (i) introducing the quantitative methods required to understand AI-infused science, (ii) redefining metrics and models to account for AI-generated content in science, and (iii) delivering quantitative scientific insights into how AI is changing the diffusion of science. Taken together, scAIence will lay the scientific foundation for the quantitative study of AI-infused science.

The scAIence project is planned to take place at Roberta’s main affiliation SODAS at Copenhagen University – follow Roberta for upcoming hiring calls for PhD students and Postdocs. 

Our Mastodon server is one year old today

Exactly one year ago Michael has set up the Mastodon server, to allow the data/network science community, broadly defined, to build up a new online home after Twitter’s demise. In this time has become a vibrant online community with almost 300 people who have joined from all over the world, from various disciplines or from industry. As the first account on the server, also NERDS have set up shop there: After just a year we have successfully amassed almost 500 followers:

However, the point of Mastodon is not quantity, but quality. As Twitter has become X, a platform now known for hate speech and misinformation, we are prioritizing Mastodon and are posting all our news there first. We still keep our X account, as a large part of our scientific community has not yet moved away from X, but we encourage everyone to just try out Mastodon. While Mastodon is not perfect, it is better than other platforms we know, not least because of its extraordinary engagement and civility which makes it great for scientists. If you are interested, sign up here, it’s super easy:

To learn more about, see:

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!

We welcome 2 new PhD students: Anders and Daniel

This month, another two PhD students join NERDS – Welcome Anders and Daniel!

Anders Weile Larsen is working with Roberta Sinatra (KU, SODAS) and Vedran Sekara (ITU, NERDS) on a project which aims to uncover the fundamental limits of ML and AI for predicting human behavior. Holding a Bachelor’s degree in Cognitive Science and a Master’s in Social Data Science, Anders comes from a highly interdisciplinary background. Anders has previously worked in the Danish Ministry of Taxation where he developed a customer segmentation model and taught Python programming. More recently, as part of the Nation-Scale Social Networks project, Anders has worked on estimating peer effects of library takeouts and modeling patterns of literary consumption. Anders’ PhD is funded by the Danish Pioneer Centre for AI, where he is also affiliated.

Daniel Juhász Vigild is a PhD student at SODAS (our sister group at KU), at the ROCKWOOL Foundation’s Research Unit, and is a visiting PhD student at ITU. He holds a Msc. in Business Analytics from DTU. 
His research examines the digitalization of the public sector, with a focus on quantifying the productivity enhancements and potential social costs of implementing digital initiatives. 
He is currently examining the effect of implementing POL-INTEL, an intelligence-led policing tool implemented in Denmark in 2018.

NERDS win 2 Villum Synergy grants

NERDS members Michele Coscia and Roberta Sinatra each won a Villum Synergy research grant, funded by the Villum Foundation! Each of the grants will provide us funding for one Postdoc.

Current view from the NERDS lair

Michele Coscia’s project Past social network reconstruction from material culture data is in collaboration with the Centre for Urban Network Evolutions (UrbNet), Aarhus University. This data-driven project establishes interdisciplinary collaboration between archaeologists and network scientists to create the first integrated computational workflow for reconstructing past social networks from material culture data. It will enhance archaeological method and theory for network data representation of material culture data and for testing assumptions about how this data reflects past social networks. It will also enrich network science: archaeology provides network data with critical incompleteness issues but that is also rich in metadata. The project will enable studies on the diversity of social networks of our species, and how processes evolve over long time periods beyond the scope of current social network studies.

Roberta Sinatra’s project Quantifying the Prevalence and Diffusion of Generative AI in Science is in collaboration with the Department of Sociology, University of Copenhagen. This project fills these critical knowledge gaps by bridging expertise in computer science and the sociology of science, to study the prevalence of large language models (LLMs) like ChatGPT in science. It will analyze trends in the usage and prevalence of LLMs across scientific disciplines and will predict the diffusion and adoption of generative AI in scientific networks. The project will help prepare the scientific enterprise for the challenges and opportunities presented by generative AI.

Welcome Jacob to NERDS!

Meet the newest member of NERDS – Jacob Aarup Dalsgaard! Jacob is a PhD student in social data science at SODAS – our KU sister group, and will be a visiting PhD student at ITU. Jacob will be diving deep into the world of bias in science, focusing especially on algorithms and models, as part of the BiasExplained project funded by the Villum Foundation. We’re super happy to have him on board and can’t wait to see all the contribution he will bring to the group. 💡

Welcome to the NERDS squad, Jacob! 🖖

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)! 🍻 🍻