Digital Media Winter Institute
SMART Data Sprint 2021 
The current state of platformisation
01 – 05 February 2021
9:00 – 18:00  (Lisbon time)|  #SMARTdatasprint | Research Blog |
Facebook Group: SMART Data Sprint | @iNOVAmedialab
Universidade Nova de Lisboa | NOVA FCSH | iNOVA Media Lab

The Current State of Platformisation ˚ Keynote Talks and Practical Labs ˚  Projects ˚ Preparation ˚ Applications, Tuition Fee and Logistics ˚ Scholarship ˚ Research Blog and Social Media ˚ 

˚ ˚ SMART Data Sprint 2021 ˚ ˚

The fifth edition of SMART Data Sprint is planned to take place in a hybrid mode, welcoming participants and collaborators in an online or face-to-face format. In January 2021, depending on the COVID-19 situation, we will inform all participants whether the sprint may be held online.

Due to the current situation of the COVID-19 pandemic and the confinement in Portugal and most European countries, SMART Data Sprint 2021 will be held entirely only at Zoom. All detailed information will soon be provided to the participants.

<< Save the Date: February 3rd, 5PM (GMT) // José van Dijck open keynote lecture on “A European perspective on platformization” // Free registration here: >>


SMART Data Sprint is an intensive hands-on experience, driven by online data and digital methods. We adopt experimental and inventive ways of reading, seeing, and analysing platform data with the aim of responding to a set of research questions. For one week, participants will attend keynote lectures, short talks, a masterclass, and parallel sessions of practical labs as well as work together in project groups. 

We are pleased to announce that José van Dijck is joining SMART Data Sprint 2021 with a keynote talk on Platformisation. José van Dijck is a distinguished university professor at the University of Utrecht (The Netherlands); before moving to Utrecht University, she was Chair and Dean at the University of Amsterdam. From 2015 to 2018, she served as the elected president of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. 

Van Dijck’s keynote is planned to take place at Nova Campolide Campus and will be open to SMART Data Sprint participants and the general public. Note that due to the COVID-19 travel restrictions, the keynote may be held online. To attend the keynote, external participants will be asked to register. Registration link available soon. 

We are also very happy to welcome  Anne Helmond and Fernando van der Vlist with an online keynote. Helmond is an Assistant Professor of New Media and Digital Culture at the University of Amsterdam. She is a member of the Digital Methods Initiative and App Studies Initiative research collectives where she focuses her research on the history and infrastructure of social media platforms and apps. 

Fernando van der Vlist coordinates the App Studies Initiative, is a member of the Digital Methods Initiative, and is connected to Utrecht University’s focus area ‘Governing the Digital Society’.

Our invited panel is completed with Ariadna Matamoros-Fernández’s online masterclass. Matamoros-Fernández is a Lecturer in Digital Media in the School of Communication at QUT and chief investigator of the Digital Media Research Centre (DMRC). Her research focuses on controversial practices on different platforms, including new forms of racist and anti-racist practices; visual content like political memes in relation to hate speech and platform governance; and the influence of algorithms in shaping everyday life. 

SMART Data Sprint is designed for doctoral students and early career scholars. It is also open for master students, non-academics, developers, research professionals, data journalists, designers, and all those who are passionate about data-driven studies and software-oriented analysis. Our goal is to collectively achieve concrete outcomes, providing an environment in which participants can equally contribute to and benefit from one another’s expertise. We believe that: 1) new approaches for web platforms-based research can be collectively built and designed through this experimental and exploratory process and that 2) the data sprint approach can trigger new possibilities for ongoing digital methods research.  

SMART Data Sprint Research Blog + Videos

Official hashtag: #SMARTdatasprint //Facebook Group: SMART Data Sprint

Find out more about the projects and themes of SMART Data Sprint in previous years: 2020, 2019, 2018 and 2017

˚ ˚ The current state of platformisation ˚ ˚

On the left, a GIF image montage of 15158 images presents an over-time distribution of screenshots highlighting four types of Tumblr notifications in the context of Tumblr porn purge. On the right, in the context of Anti-Feminist and Anti-LGBT debates in Brazil, we see the distribution of links posted in feminism and sexual politics-themed Facebook pages active during the 2018 Brazilian electoral period, indexed as anti- and pro-rights.

What does it mean to study platform-driven environments? On the one hand, the network metaphor implies thinking platforms as complex ecologies whose components continually adapt to each other’s ongoing change [1]. On the other hand, when looking at today’s internet infrastructure, we encounter profit-driven corporate ecosystems of manipulation. Large Internet tech-companies have become the main venues of our everyday life reaching into a wide variety of private and public sectors. The relations between platforms and apps, users and algorithms, corporate interests and social media cultures are complex and contested. 

Following a holistic approach to the transformations that platforms set into motion [2], the current state of platformisation requires not only a better understanding of data-driven hierarchies of power. It also invites for studying the material properties of platforms in their capacity to extend into the rest of the web. Such dynamics of data de- and recentralization [3] are produced simultaneously, posing a series of questions: 

Which opportunities, limitations and ethical challenges are we dealing with when accessing data through application programming interfaces (APIs)? Which values are prioritized in algorithmically driven environments of content recommendation and which are rendered invisible? How do we understand and study the dynamics of content and data circulation in relation to the recurrent acts of deplatforming and app banning [4]? And how can we critically approach these relations when taking into account both the specificity of platforms and their infrastructural intertwinings?

Smart Data Sprint 2021 provides an environment for approaching current questions of platformisation through critical practices of data appropriation and software-oriented analysis. By inviting participants to engage with technical, interpretative and conceptual tasks, we put forward a hands-on approach to different forms of knowledge that are mobilized when performing platform-driven data research and using digital methods. 

[1] Plantin, J-C, Lagoze, C, Edwards, PN, Sandvig C (2016) Infrastructure studies meet platform studies in the age of Google and Facebook. New Media & Society. (pp. 293-310) DOI: 10.1177/1461444816661553. 

[2] van Dijck, J (2020) Seeing the forest for the trees: Visualising platformization and its governance. New Media & Society (pp. 1-19). DOI: 10.1177/1461444820940293

[3] Helmond, A (2015) The Platformisation of the Web: Making Web Data Platform Ready. Social Media + Society (pp. 1-11). DOI: 10.1177/2056305115603080

[4] Rogers, R (2020) Deplatforming. Following extreme Internet celebrities to Telegram and alternative social media. European Journal of Communication (pp. 213-229). DOI: 10.1177/0267323120922066. 

˚ ˚ Keynote Talks 

We are glad to receive José van Dijck (University of Utrecht – The Netherlands), Anne Helmond (Amsterdam University and Digital Methods Initiative) and Fernando van der Vlist (App Studies Initiative, and Digital Methods Initiative) with keynote talks and Ariadna Matamoros-Fernández (School of Communication at QUT and Digital Media Research Centre) with a masterclass. 

<< Save the Date: February 3rd, 5PM (GMT) // José van Dijck open keynote lecture on “A European perspective on platformization” // Free registration here: >>

Practical Labs˚ ˚

An International team of senior researchers, doctoral students and designers will also be leading Short Talks and Practical Labs. This year, the practical labs will contemplate the following themes:

» Querying digital platforms & extracting data
» Content Analysis on Instagram
» Studying memes through platform data spreadsheets 
» Using APIs with Facepager
» Webscraping with Facepager
» Basic tricks for working with data
» Advanced tricks for working with data 
» Using AI to enrich image data
» Mapping gender issue-networks with Wikipedia: from co-word occurrences to topics of interest 
» Opening up the black-box of mobile apps’ traffic
» Gephi for Beginners
» Mapping Twitter social media networks with NodeXL Pro
» Reading Digital Networks

˚ ˚ Projects ˚ ˚

Participants can elect from different projects to work on.

#vivasylibresnosqueremos: Digital practices and public debates of feminisms in Latin America
Gabriela Sued (CONACYT Postdoctoral Researcher; IIS- UNAM- Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México)
María Concepción Gonzalez Castillo (Researcher Professor; Tecnológico de Monterrey – México)

Facebook as a political platform.
Jorge Martins Rosa (Associate professor; NOVA FCSH)
N. Gizem Bacaksizlar (postdoctoral researcher; ICNOVA)

Investigating cross-platform visual issuefication: the case of Brazil’s Pantanal wildfires.
Carlos D´Andréa (professor; Graduate Program in Communication Studies and Social Communication Department at UFMG)
André Mintz (assistant professor; Department of Photography and Cinema, Fine Arts School, Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil; Researcher of R-EST and of GAIA)

How Instagram’s algorithm shape controversial issues over time?
Elias Bitencourt (Associate Professor, The State University of Bahia, Brazil; Adjunct Professor, Federal University of Bahia, Brazil; Researcher of LAB404/UFBA)
João Guilherme (post-doc researcher at INCTDD; Ahead of INCT.DD’s Data Science for Digital Communication Laboratory) 

I WON THIS ELECTION, BY A LOT! Trump spectacle and memetic antagonism on Twitter
Elena Pilipets (Postdoc researcher at the Department of Media and Communications at the University of Klagenfurt, Áustria; SMART researcher with iNOVA Media Lab, Universidade NOVA de Lisboa, Portugal)
Susanna Paasonen (Professor of Media Studies; University of Turku, Finland)

#homesofInsta for a #lockdownlife: a digital exploration of everyday aesthetics and mediated domesticity on Instagram
Sander De Ridder (Ghent University & Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium)
Sofia P. Caldeira (Ghent University, Belgium)

˚ ˚ Preparation ˚ ˚

We strongly recommend watching web tutorials on data extraction, data mining tools, as well as visualization software before the sprint. Please visit the following links: Netlytic, Cortext médialab tools, DMI tools, RawGraphs, a list of research software developed by Bernhard Rieder, and also video tutorials. Tools such as Gephi or miniVAN for visualization and exploration of networks, and some Firefox extensions, e.g. Save Images, DownThemAll, and GrabThemAll, may also be helpful.

Relevant reading for Van Dijck’s keynote: Seeing the forest for the trees: Visualizing Platformization and its Governance

In case you plan to join us in Lisbon, please bring your computer and everything you need to support your work. 

˚ ˚ Applications, Tuition Fee and Logistics ˚ ˚

In case you are not able to complete your registration, please let us know by sending an email to smart.inovamedialab[at]


Applications Dates & Tuition Fees


Applications open at

Deadline for Applications

Tuition Fee **

1 November 2020

18 January 2021

EUR 300,- [all participants]

** After your application is accepted and the bank transfer made, please note that there will be no refund of the tuition fee. The same condition applies if due to COVID-19 situation SMART Data Sprint will be held entirely online.

˚ ˚ Scholarship ˚ ˚

We understand that the academic journey can be tough in financial terms. SMART Data Sprint offers five scholarships (3 online and 2 face to face) to cover part of the tuition fee expenses. Note that due to COVID-19 situation, face-to-face scholarships will be changed to online scholarships. The scholarships are exclusively awarded to doctoral or master students on the grounds of academic merit and digital methods literacy or skill expertise (e.g. new media students, developers, or data designers). 


In case you are not able to complete your registration, please let us know by sending an email to smart.inovamedialab[at]

Scholarship Schedule


Applications open at

Applications close at

Final Selection

Tuition Fee 

1 November 2020

31 December 2020

10 January 2021

EUR 70,-

About SMART 

SMART is an applied research group of iNOVA Media Lab specialised in Social Media Research Techniques. The central idea of SMART lies in social media methods with the intention to build new data-driven research techniques to social science and humanities, and, in parallel, to engage with (and learn from) digital device culture.

About INOVA Media Lab

iNOVA Media Lab is an applied research laboratory at NOVA FCSH, and part of the NOVA Institute of Communication (IC NOVA) at Universidade NOVA de Lisboa. iNOVA Media Lab is devoted to an interdisciplinary convergence of digital media and emerging technologies. The lab serves as the main hub for the PhD Program in Digital Media, nurturing a culture of innovation, creativity, entrepreneurship, and mutual support among graduate students, faculty, and industry partners. iNOVA Media Lab is organized around the following research lines: immersive and interactive narrative, digital methods and platform studies, science communication research, innovation journalism, human-computer interaction, information visualisation and new media literacies.

Further Suggested Readings: 

Helmond, A. & van der Vlist, F.N. (2019) Social Media and Platform Historiography: Challenges and Opportunities. TMG – Journal for Media History, 22(1): 6–34.

Poell, T., Nieborg, D. & Van Dijck, J.(2019). Platformisation. Policy review. Volume 8. DOI: 10.14763/2019.4.1425. 

Rieder, B., Coromina, Òscar, & Matamoros-Fernández, A. (2020). Mapping YouTube. First Monday, 25(8).

Rogers, R. (2019). Doing Digital Methods. London: Sage.

Omena, J.J.; Rabello, E & Mintz, A. (2020). Digital Methods for Hashtag Engagement Research. Social Media + Society. 

van Dijck, J., Poell, T. & de Waal, M. (2018). The Platform Society. Public Values in a Connective World. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 

About the data sprint approach:

Munk, A. K., Madsen, A. K. and Jacomy, M. (2019) ‘Thinking through the databody: Sprints as experimental situations’, in Mäkitalo, Å., Nicewonger, T., and Elam, M. (eds) Designs for Experimentation and Inquiry: Approaching Learning and Knowing in Digital Transformation. 1st ed. London: Routledge, pp. 110–128.

Venturini, T., Munk, A. K. and Jacomy, M. (2018) ‘Data-Sprinting: A Public Approach to Digital Research’, in Lury, C., Fensham, R., Clough, P., Heller-Nicholas, A., Lammes, S., Last, A., Michael, M., Uprichard, E. (ed.) Handbook of Interdisciplinary Research Methods Routledge. Routledge International Handbooks. Available at:

For Portuguese speakers:

Omena, J.J.(ed.) (2019). Métodos Digitais: Teoria-Prática-Crítica. Lisboa: ICNOVA. ISBN: 978‐972‐9347‐34‐4

Mauri, M., Gobbo, B. and Colombo, G. (2019) ‘O papel do designer no contexto do data sprint’, in Omena, J. J. (ed.) Métodos digitais: Teoria-Prática-Crítica. Lisbon: ICNOVA, pp. 161–180.