INSITE Workshop: Games, Science & Society

October 10-11, 2013

International Institute Applied Systems Analysis, Laxenburg, Austria


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When new communication technologies become accessible to many, this may have tremendous impact on society: social bonds change and re-arrange massively both in quantity and quality, leading to potentially massive changes in social dynamics and eventually society. This is especially true for the new possibilities currently opening through the combination of internet, DIY technologies, smart devices, computer games, and new media. At this workshop we discuss the new technologies and their impacts on science, how it might change, and how it will be taught. We discuss novel ideas to use the new technology in knowledge production and dissemination. We show already realized accomplishments in the field of crowd sourcing scientific knowledge production such as scientific discovery games, that involve the interaction and coordination of people through online platforms. With these platforms it becomes possible for the first time to understand the processes of knowledge production on a quantitative basis.


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Thursday, Oct. 10, 10:00 – 17:00

Friday Oct. 11,         10:00 – 16:00




IIASA, Schlossplatz 1, 2361 Laxenburg

The meeting will take place at the Raiffa Room, located in the main castle

In case you do not find it right away, please contact the concierge at the main entrance of the Schloss (castle).


The map is here



How to get there


Please find your way from the hotel to Hauptbahnhof. From Hauptbahnhof (Vienna Main Train station) follow the bus signs to the exit Bus Terminal/Laxenburgerstrasse. The bus ticket costs €2.00 one way and departs roughly every 30 minutes. The trip takes 35 minutes. The buses will indicate either Laxenburg or Eisenstadt as their destination, but check with the driver whether the bus you are boarding is going to Laxenburg. You should get off in Laxenburg (klick for foto) at the stop called Franz-Josefs-Platz. The main entrance of the IIASA Schloss is indicated on the center of the map and is about a 2-minute walk from the bus stop. (See Timetable). For arrivinf well in time please take the bus leaving the Bus terminal at 08:55. If you come directly from the airport, take a cab. The drivers will know about Laxenburg and IIASA. Trip is about €30. Cab from the airport to the city is by meter and will be about €40. From the hotel to the airport please let the hotel guys help you to make sure that you pay a fixed rate not exceeding €36.  Also there is good public transport to the city center (train €4), or CAT (private train €11).





Lunch will be served at the Schloss Restaurant. We walk there together after the

Invited speakers get a voucher, other participants get a low-price lunch (about 5). 





We meet Palmenhaus, at 20:00

Palmenhaus is in the heart of the city of Vienna.

Burggarten 1, 1010 Vienna. Invited speakers are will get a voucher. For all others who wish to join, dinner will be 40 EUR.

Please find a map here:,Wien&cid=0,0,1681345955889580957&ei=qFFNUpjADIWStAa8ooGACw&ved=0CJQBEPwS





For most of you Anita booked a room at hotel Favorita, Laxenburger Str. 8-10, 1100 Vienna. Should there be any problem, please mention that your reservation was done by the Medical University of Vienna through Anita Wanjek. For those of you who were not in contact with Anita about a hotel booking there will not be a room reserved.

A map is found here,Wien&cid=0,0,7137138385149054611&ei=f1FNUtrzKsKr7AaggIHICg&ved=0CLcBEPwSMAs



Emergency number


In case of great emergency please reach me under

+43 6991 8421740 (Stefan Thruner)




Program (preliminary)


Thursday October 10, 2013



Francois Taddei Can we turn Europe into a 21st century Humboldtian campus?


Vittorio Loreto Participatory sensing and social computation




Steffen Fritz Using gaming and crowdsourcing to collect essential land cover and land use data


Alberto Lusoli Fostering sustainability through civic engagement




Antoine Tesnière Serious games for medical training: combining content, technology and gaming


Anna Chmiel Collective Emotions in online data and negative emotions as a discussion fuel





Bosiljka Tadic Self organization and networking in online chats with users, agents and bots: A paradigm of new information dynamics


Frederic Martin tba








Friday October 11, 2013



Vickie Curtis Online citizen science projects: what motivates and sustains participation?


Arnaud Vincent Krabott – algorithmic trading is just a game for all


Coffee & Discussions


Pietro Panzarasa Simmelian brokerage and social capital: Reconciling social cohesion and structural holes


Christos Tsiapalis Studying browsing information of Wikipedia users




Discussion: joint projects, H2020 calls, collaborations, coding isues





Titles & abstracts



Francois Taddei

Can we turn Europe into a 21st century Humboldtian campus?


Vittorio Loreto

Participatory sensing and social computation


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Interconnected techno-social systems have an increasingly pervasive influence on our culture and everyday life. There is now overwhelming evidence that the current organisation of our economies and societies is seriously damaging biological ecosystems and human living conditions in the very short term, with potentially catastrophic effects in the long term. With a growing realisation that only through bottom-up actions we can deal with today's challenges, there is an urgent need to create an ICT fabric that can support the local actions of citizens by supporting collaborative monitoring, exposing actionable local information, and enabling an evidence-based dialogue among stakeholders. Nowadays low-cost sensing technologies allow the citizens to directly assess the state of the environment; social networking tools allow effective data and opinion collection and real-time information spreading processes. At the same time in the last few years the Web has progressively acquired the status of an infrastructure for social computation that allows researchers to coordinate the cognitive abilities of human agents in on-line communities so to steer the collective user activity towards predefined goals. This general trend is also triggering the adoption of web-games as a very interesting laboratory to run experiments in the social sciences and whenever the contribution of human beings is crucially required for research purposes. In this talk I'll review some of the progresses I have witnessed in the last few years in the framework of the EveryAware project, whose goal is to enhance social awareness about environmental issues emerging in urban habitats. I'll discuss several case studies about Noise and Air pollution as well as Experimental Tribe, a general purpose platform for Web-gaming and social computation.


Steffen Fritz

Using gaming and crowdsourcing to collect essential land cover and land use data


Alberto Lusoli

Fostering sustainability through civic engagement


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There are many decisions being made by policies which affect citizens’ daily lives, from introducing high speed fiber-optic Internet cables, to building a new motorway that passes through a residential area. Traditional decision making tools proved to be incapable to foresee the impact of innovations processes given the complexity of the environments in which they are deploying, creating in this manner unpredictable social, economic and environmental consequences. As a result, the society we’re living in is endangered by these unpredictable - and sometimes not even perceptible at first - side effects of innovation. To prevent the proliferation of these byproducts, traditional decision making tools have been recently coupled with some forms of civic consultations. Nevertheless, when it happens that citizens are encouraged to participate into decision making processes, this is done mainly through “old-fashioned” means of interactions, i.e. surveys, town hall meetings, etc. Real debates among agents can hardly be grasped and then used to inform the decision making process, as most of these forms of civic consultations are one-way communications from agents (or groups of agents) to project designers/initiators. Moreover, civic consultation is still perceived as the preliminary stage of a process that will later propel autonomously towards defined goals, without further continuing the interaction with citizens as the process goes on. However, a new approach to innovation processes design and evaluation, called Dynamic Evaluation (DE), is being developed by the EU funded research project Emergence by Design (MD)1. The DE is a methodology that aims at providing constant feedbacks to project initiators and designers, as well as to all the people and organizations affected by these projects, about the transformations and changes that are occurring in the agents-artifacts space2 that the projects seek to transform. The DE brings into focus the need for a new approach to evaluation, specifically designed for innovative settings, where goals and directions are emergent and constantly changing, rather than being pre-determined and fixed. The ultimate aim of the Dynamic Evaluation is to increasingly include in the evaluation activity all the participants affected by an innovation project, in order to raise the sensitivity of the agents about unwanted side effects, improve their self-awareness and help them to better control the innovation process. The research challenge MD is now facing is how to create effective feedback loops capable to engage agents affected by the project in the evaluation process. In this respect, how can concepts such as Gamification and Crowdsourcing contribute to improve the effectiveness of these loops? How through ICTs can we engage citizens in taking control of the innovation processes that will ultimately have an impact on their communities?


Antoine Tesniére

Serious games for medical training: combining content, technology and gaming


Anna Chmiel

Collective emotions in online data and negative emotions as a discussion fuel


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E-communities are an object of interdisciplinary research. Similar to real-world encounters, Internet communication may not only include factual information but also the emotional component. We have shown a collective character of affective phenomena on a large scale as observed in four million posts downloaded from Blogs, Digg and BBC Forums. To test whether the emotions of a community member may influence the emotions of others, posts were grouped into clusters of messages with similar emotional valences. The frequency of long clusters was much higher than it would be if emotions occurred at random. Distributions of cluster sizes can be explained by preferential processes, because the conditional probabilities for consecutive messages grow as a power with cluster size. The empirical study of user activity in online BBC discussion forums allows us to observe a special role of negative emotions. The level of negative emotions in the entire forum boosts users activity, i.e. participants with more negative emotions write more posts. At the level of individual threads users that are more active in a specific thread tend to express more negative emotions and seem to be the key agents sustaining threads discussions. As a result, longer threads possess more negative emotional content.


Bosiljka Tadic

Self-Organization and networking in online chats with users, agents and bots: A paradigm of new information dynamics


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Self-organized self-driven stochastic processes underlying user communications on Web platforms, where a large amount of the world population shares information and knowledge via social contacts and networking, may have far reaching consequences both for science and society. Apart from these key concerns which require long-term research and multidisciplinary approaches, science methods are required to study these processes themselves. Specifically,  physics theory of collective dynamical phenomena in synergy with methods of computer science offers proper analysis of the contents in the empirical data of user dynamics, and understanding their role in the course of  processes; based on such analysis, advanced socially intelligent information systems can be designed (with possibly desired impact on science and/or society).  In this presentation, we will briefly comment on key features and potentials of this approach using the example of empirical data from Internet-Relayed-Chats  (online chats from Ubuntu channel) and agent-based modeling. In particular, we will demonstrate how ad hoc contacts in which knowledge and emotion are shared can lead to social networking and collective behaviors of users. In addition, this approach  reveals that including suitably designed Bots (Web robots) may alter the states of the system, making it susceptive to emotion (and information) processing.


Vickie Curtis

Online citizen science projects: what motivates and sustains participation?


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Online (or virtual) citizen science projects are part of a growing trend where people use the internet to contribute in meaningful ways to a wide range of scientific challenges.  Tasks are conducted entirely online, with participants analysing data that is provided by scientists, rather than collecting data themselves.  Participants can take part in the comfort of their own home, or while on the move with lap-tops, mobile devices and an internet connection.  Online communities often form around these projects, giving participants the opportunity to interact and collaborate with other citizen scientists or with the professional scientists managing the project.

Thousands of people take part in these projects, yet there is very little research that explores why people contribute - sometimes for many hours a day, and sometimes over a period of several years.  My research focuses on what motivates and sustains participation in different types of online citizen project, and how participants may collaborate with each other.  I am investigating three different projects: Foldit (www.fold,it); Planet Hunters (; and Folding@home ( using online surveys, interviews, and through participant observation. Preliminary results suggest that participants take part in these projects because they want to make a contribution to scientific research , they have a background interest in science, or have a personal interest or stake in the outcome of the research.  However, motivations do vary between projects.

I will present some of my findings, and also discuss some of the demographic characteristics of these groups of citizen scientists.


Arnaud Vincent

Krabott – Algorithmic trading is just a game for all


Pietro Panzarasa

Simmelian brokerage and social capital: Reconciling social cohesion and structural holes


In the social sciences, the debate over the structural foundations of social capital has long vacillated between two positions on the relative benefits associated with two types of social structures: closed structures, rich in third-party relationships, and open structures, rich in structural holes and brokerage opportunities. On the one hand, proponents of the benefits of closed structures draw on the idea that social cohesion sustains trust, a sense of belonging, cooperative behaviour, the enforcement of social norms, and the creation of a common culture. On the other, advocates of the value of open structures emphasise the information and control benefits that actors can extract from brokering between otherwise disconnected others. We engage with this debate by focusing on the measures with which the two conceptions of social capital have traditionally been formalised: clustering and effective size. While clustering has typically been used for measuring the extent to which a node is embedded within a closed cohesive structure, effective size is a measure for detecting the non-redundancy of a node's contacts, and therefore the degree to which the node's local neighbourhood is rich in structural holes. We show that clustering and effective size are simply two sides of the same coin, as they can be expressed one in terms of the other through a simple functional relation. Drawing upon this relation, and in qualitative agreement with the organisational literature on Simmelian ties, we then develop a novel measure - Simmelian brokerage - for detecting a generative mechanism of social capital that lies at the interface between closed and open structures. Being sensitive not only to the number of links in a node's local network, but also to variations in the position of links across local networks of the same density, Simmelian brokerage captures opportunities of brokerage between otherwise disconnected groups of densely interconnected nodes. By detecting the extent to which a node belongs to multiple groups that are tightly knit and disconnected from each other, Simmelian brokerage dovetails with the idea that multiple group-affiliations enable a node to extract social capital from the underlying structure by blending social cohesion with structural holes. Implications of our findings for research on social capital and complex networks are discussed.



Christos Tsiapalis

Studying browsing information of Wikipedia users


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Studies regarding Wikipedia have been focused on the documents' hyperlink network or the edit history of the articles. An approach to collect information about and understand users' browsing behavior on the knowledge-space of Wikipedia will be presented.




List of participants and emails


Francois TADDEI                                Centre de la recherche interdisciplinaire - CRI


Elena ROVENSKAYA                        International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis - IIASA


Steffen FRITZ                                     International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis - IIASA


Vittorio LORETO                                Istituto Nazionale di Fsica Nucleare – INFN


Alberto LUSOLI                                  European Centre for Living Technology – ECLT


Bosiljka TADIC                                   Jozef Stefan Institute – JSI


Christos TSIAPALIS                            Medical University of Vienna – MUW


Anna CHMIEL                                    Medical University of Vienna – MUW


Stefan THURNER                               Medical University of Vienna – MUW


Anita WANJEK                                   Medical University of Vienna – MUW


Antoine TESNIÈRE                            Laboratoire Universitaire Médical d’Enseignement basé sur les technologies Numériques et de Simulation - iLUMENS


Arnaud VINCENT                               Krabott trading game


Vickie CURTIS                                    Centre for Research in Education and Educational Technology, Open University


Henri Vuollekoski                                Division of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Helsinki


Pietro PANZARASA                           Queen Mary College University of London - QMUL