Keynote at ACM Web Science Conference

Helen Margetts will speak about Political Turbulence in her keynote at the 2016 ACM Conference on Web Science in Hannover, Germany.

The keynote is entitled “Understanding Political Turbulence: The Data Science of Politics,” and the abstract is available in full at the link below.

Social media are now inextricably intertwined with the political behaviour of ordinary citizens. As people go about their daily lives on an ever-changing cast of web-based platforms, they are invited to make ‘micro-donations’ of time and effort to political causes: liking, sharing, tweeting, retweeting, following, uploading, downloading, signing petitions and so on, which extend the ladder of participation at the lower end and draw new people into politics, particularly in younger age groups. These ‘tiny acts’ of political participation can scale up to large mobilizations. The overwhelming majority fail, but some succeed rapidly and dramatically through a series of chain reactions and tipping points. …Read more (.pdf)

Oxford Literary Festival

Helen Margetts spoke about Political Turbulence at the 2016 Oxford Literary Festival on 3 April 2016.

[The authors] demonstrate how most attempts at collective action online fail but some give rise to huge mobilisations and even revolution. Those that succeed are unpredictable, unstable and often unsustainable. They argue that a new form of pluralistic democracy is emerging but one that is chaotic and turbulent. …Further details

Green Templeton: Living by numbers lecture series

Helen Margetts will speak about Political Turbulence at Green Templeton College on Monday 1 February 2016. Her talk is entitled, “Politics by numbers: How social media shape collective action” and forms part of the Green Templeton Lecture series 2016 whose theme is Living by Numbers: Big Data and Society. The talk is from 18:00 to 19:00 in the E P Abraham Lecture Theatre and registration via email to is essential.

The talk is the second of four lectures in the Green Templeton Lecture series 2016 whose theme is Living by Numbers: Big Data and Society. The series asks: what is the digital future and how will it significantly change our lives? and aims to raise questions about the nature of developments associated with the availability and analysis of large datasets (big data) and the implications for core aspects of everyday life.

In this lecture, Professor Helen Margetts, Director of the Oxford Internet Institute and Professor of Society and the Internet will talk about how the Internet and social media can bring political change, allowing ‘tiny acts’ of political participation which can scale up to large-scale mobilisation of millions—but mostly fail. These new forms of mobilisation increase instability and uncertainty in political systems, challenging policy-makers in both democratic and authoritarian regimes. But they also generate new sources of large-scale data. Drawing on research carried out for the new book Political Turbulence: How Social Media Shape Collective Action, this lecture discusses how social media is changing political systems—and how data science tools and methodologies might be used to understand, explain and even predict the new ‘political turbulence’.

Computational social science: A new social physics

Taha Yasseri is talking about how the data from digital technology we use everyday can be used in Computational Social Science.

This talk is part of the University of Aberdeen’s Festival of Social Science and Science in the Quad Season 3, Institute of Physics in Scotland.

Here is the blurb of the talk:

As digital technologies, the Internet, and social media become increasingly integrated into society, our daily lives generate unprecedented quantities of digital data. These data provide opportunities to study complex social systems in frameworks similar to those of the natural sciences. We will discuss these new opportunities and the latest advancements in Computational Social Science.…Learn more (pdf)

The role of “others” in social media activism

Taha Yasseri is talking about online activism at the Royal Academy of Arts’ programme Digital (Dis)connections: Ai Weiwei Late on Saturday 24th October.

Here is a blurb of his talk:

Humans are self-determining. Or are they? How much are we influenced by social pressure and influence from our peers and how do they affect the decisions that we make “on our own”? What’s the role of the Internet and specifically social media when it comes to our participation in online political (and nonpolitical) activities? Are social media only new tools and environments for the same type of pre-Internet political activities or they are fundamentally transforming the forms and dynamics of participation?..Learn more