2018 Amsterdam Workshop On News Personalisation

Friday February 2nd IViR will host a workshop for professionals from the media and academia who are involved with news personalization. The workshop will provide those who have to lead the way on news personalization the opportunity to exchange ideas, discuss shared problems and solutions, and connect for future collaboration. Karen Yeung, Interdisciplinary Professorial Fellow in Law, Ethics and Informatics at the Birmingham Law School, will give a keynote about algorithmic regulation in the context of the news media.

The workshop is being organized by the PersoNews project. Through interviews with the media, focus groups and surveys of users, and legal research, the PersoNews project has created a more comprehensive overview of the problems, solutions and opportunities presented by news personalisation. The most salient and recent aspects of this research will be presented at this workshop, followed by the possibility for exchange and in-depth discussion of selected issues.


  • 12.00-12.30: welcome and brown bag lunch
  • 12.30-13.30: presentation and discussion of the preliminary results of our studies on users and media organizations
  • 14.00-14.30: coffee break
  • 14.30-15.00: mapping the problem space: what are the most recent and most pressing issues in planning, running and developing personalized news services?
  • 15.00-15.45: breakout sessions: based on the preceding discussion, 4 of the following topics will be discussed in separate groups. The discussions will focus on common challenges and potential solutions, the information which is used to deal with them, and beneficial exchanges.
    • What is personalization good for and what it is not (and how to measure that)?
    • The collection and processing of user data: legal and ethical considerations
    • Users’ trust in news and news organizations
    • Editorial understanding and control of algorithmic recommender technologies (diversity, relevance, agenda setting, editorial principles, etc.)
    • The commercial relevance of personalization (business plans, revenue models, dead ends, and new opportunities)
    • Filter bubbles and other threats, and ways to fight them
    • News distribution strategies vis-a-vis personalized platforms
    • Data-driven personalization and the challenge of equality
  • 15.45-16.30: reconvening and reporting on the breakout sessions
  • 16.30-17.00: coffee break
  • 17.00- 18.00: keynote speech (Karen Yeung), followed by drinks
  • 20.00- 22.00: dinner

IViR Lunchtime talk: Cracking the canon – what does the analysis of 4 million university syllabi teach us

We cordially invite you to attend Joe Karaganis’ (American Assembly) talk on the Open Syllabus Project.

Date: September 12, 217 (Tuesday), 1.00PM
Location: IViR Documentation Center

Universities mostly do two things: teach and research. It’s possible to understand the research process and its outcomes because it generates an extensive public record. Articles and books record the progress and diffusion of knowledge, methods, and ideas. In contrast, there are only a few ways to understand changes in the content or methods of teaching—either within individual schools or across fields.

The Open Syllabus Project is beginning to change that by collecting and analyzing course syllabi in very large numbers, drawn from universities around the world. Because syllabi are very dense records of faculty thinking about teaching and fields, their analysis opens up a wide range of inquiries and applications, ranging from intellectual history to support for open educational resources to the creation of new publication metrics. The first version of this work, the Syllabus Explorer, shows the most frequently taught texts from a collection of 1 million mostly US syllabi. The next version of the Explorer will permit deeper analysis of the curricula across 3-4 million syllabi, with much larger internationals collections and wider coverage of texts and institutions. Joe Karaganis will discuss the project and its implications for the university ecosystem (and hopefully demo the next version).

About the speaker
Joe Karaganis is vice president at The American Assembly, a public policy institute at Columbia University in New York. Karaganis directs The Open Syllabus Project—an effort to map what’s taught at universities around the world based on the datamining of millions of university syllabi. He is also the editor of Media Piracy in Emerging Economies and the forthcoming Shadow Libraries: Access to Educational Materials in the Digital Age—a multi-country study of how students get the materials they need.

Micro-targeting, the quantified persuasion – Keynote talk by Dr. Daniel Kreiss

We cordially invite you to the latest installment of the the RPA Personalised Communication Lecture Series, which is being given by Dr. Daniel Kreiss as the closing Keynote of the Amsterdam Symposium on Political Micro-Targeting.


Micro-targeting, the quantified persuasion

 Dr. Daniel Kreiss (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)

Taking Michael Schudson’s insightful Advertising, The Uneasy Persuasion as a starting point, Daniel Kreiss’s talk is about the history, industries, practices, technologies, and culture of political micro-targeting. Focusing on the U.S. context, it discusses how political micro-targeting developed as an industry and set of practices and technologies distinct from mass media advertising in two primary ways: the ability to make targeted appeals to multiple publics and the direct quantification of their effects. It argues that the quantification at the heart of micro-targeting has brought new actors to the fore of contemporary politics, from practitioners with specialized skills and fluid careers in commercial and political industries to specialized political consultancies and social media firms that facilitate targeting, experimentation, and the measurement of effects. The talk concludes by arguing, building from Schudson, that micro-targeting has an ‘aesthetic of political realism,’ one that celebrates partisan conflict, moral certainty, and political agonism. While micro-targeting did not create these values, it reinforces them and makes them readily available for citizens as a framework for understanding democracy. Persistent normative concern over micro-targeting, meanwhile, expresses uneasiness with the broader workings of contemporary democracy and a longing for alternative citizenship practices.


Brief Bio:
Daniel Kreiss is Assistant Professor in the School of Media and Journalism and Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Kreiss’s research explores the impact of technological change on the public sphere and political practice. In Taking Our Country Back: The Crafting of Networked Politics from Howard Dean to Barack Obama (Oxford University Press, 2012), Kreiss presents the history of new media and Democratic Party political campaigning over the last decade


Date & time:

Friday, September 22, 16.00-17.30 hours

REC C10.20, Nieuwe Achtergracht 166, 1018 WV Amsterdam


If you plan to come, please register by sending an e-mail to K.H.Hair@UVA.nl


Amsterdam symposium on political micro-targeting – summary

Under the aegis of the Personalized Communication Research Priority Area of the University of Amsterdam, the Institute for Information Law, and the Amsterdam School of Communication Research organized a one day symposium on the theory and practice of political micro-targeting. The occasion was the upcoming special issue of Internet Policy Review on political microtargeting, which is guest edited by Balazs Bodo, Natali Helberger, and Claes de Vreese.

The symposium was kicked off by Kathryn Montgomery (American University) discussing Mauricio Moura’s (George Washington University) paper on the use of WhatsApp by political campaigns in Brazil. Then, Sabrina Sassi (Université Laval) discussed a paper by Tom Dobber et al. (University of Amsterdam) on the conditions under which political microtargeting occurs in the Netherlands. Simon Kruschinski (University of Mainz) then took over to discuss Sabrina Sassi’s work on different aspects of microtargeting in the political realm. The first half of the symposium was concluded by Mauricio Moura, who discussed Simon Kruschinski and André Haller’s (University of Bamberg) analysis of data-driven campaigning in Germany.

During the lunch, participants discussed the recent careful opening towards a more transparently operating Facebook. While the group welcomed Facebook’s initiative, participants remained critical and urged the company to engage more “with governments, regulators, election monitoring bodies, civil society and academics to develop public policies and guidelines for ensuring fairness, equality, and democratic oversight in digital political campaigns”. This resulted in an open letter to Mark Zuckerberg.

The second part of the symposium was kicked off by Tom Dobber, who discussed Jessica Schmeiss’, and Maximilian von Grafenstein’s (both Alexander von Hümboldt Institut) paper on differences between commercial and political microtargeting, its risks, and potential regulatory measures. Jessica Schmeiss followed by discussing the work of Kathryn Montgomery and Jeff Chester (Center for Digital Democracy), who made an analysis of the contemporary techniques currently in use throughout the big data digital marketing industry and how they are used in political campaigns. The last paper was discussed by Claes de Vreese, and written by Damian Tambini. Tambini raises the question “whether the dominance of a few platforms in political campaigning – and particularly Facebook – is undermining electoral legitimacy”.

Daniel Kreiss (University of North Carolina) concluded the symposium with a keynote about the history, industries, practices, technologies, and culture of political microtargeting.