Nexa Center Annual Report 2014

Presented in 2014 during the Board of Trustees meeting of the Nexa Center


Looking at its 7th year of activity, the Nexa Center achieved particularly interesting results in the fields of open datanetwork performance analysisprivacy law & economics, and the implementation of linked data technologies. The Nexa Center increased the number and variety of its publications, and continued to enrich its international connections, improving its visibility.

Within one of its long standing areas of interest, open data, the Nexa Center identified new research threads and applications, such as the benchmarking of technical features of broadly used pieces of software for open data publication. An article on this topic, by R. Iemma, F. Morando, and M. Osella, earned the Best Paper Award at the CeDEM 2014 conference at Krems University. Other interdisciplinary case studies addressed government transparency, and disclosure of consumption data.

The Neubot project on network neutrality progressed by adding new network tests, in particular a plugin emulating the Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP (DASH, an MPEG standard also used by YouTube). The Nexa Center also developed Neuviz (the Neubot Visualizer), a prototype to visualize Neubot network data, and started working on a Neubot-for-Android application. In March, Simone Basso, Neubot project leader, successfully defended his doctoral thesis, becoming the first official PhD produced by the Nexa Center.

New research threads in the field of fundamental rights were established, some of which jointly addressing a legal and economic analysis of privacy, e.g., drawing attention on the implications of hypothetical ‘individual-centric’ data ecosystems. A promising research thread focusing on legal aspects of service robotics was launched, discussing a broad set of emerging legal issues, from liability to data treatment.

In the linked open data domain, our software TellMeFirst was improved by updating its knowledge base and exposing new APIs. TellMeFirst gathered the interest of Telecom Italia, that is contributing in its development both by writing code and providing the Nexa Center with some financial support. Moreover, TellMeFirst is being used to classify network measurement methodologies within the EU Network of Excellence in Internet Science (EINS).

As for the public domain and the (intangible) commons, the Nexa Center supported the Italian translation and adoption of the 4.0 version of the Creative Commons Public Licenses, raising awareness on its new features. Moreover, the Nexa Center participated in several critical consultations promoted by Italian and European institutions on copyright-related topics.

Our #socialUniversity project was arguably the first quantitative study on the use of social networks by Italian universities, including a limited international comparison. This project received considerable attention by the Italian media, and was presented at the CeDEM 2014 conference.

The 4th Nexa Annual Conference was held in Turin on November 30th, 2013, with a focus on Internet & Democracy. The Conference contributed to shed some light on a broad set of aspects, from the relationship between online and offline interaction, to discussions on eDemocracy endeavors worldwide. The Conference brought together both renowned lecturers and young talented scholars.

The Nexa Center also contributed to the “Computer Ethics: social and ethical aspects of the digital revolution” conference, held November 18th, co-organized with AICA – “Associazione italiana per l’informatica ed il Calcolo Automatico”, and involving several Nexa-affiliated speakers.

As far as international relations are concerned, the Global Network of Centers on Internet & Society increasingly represented an occasion to set up collaborations on topics of common interest amongst the partners. From Sept. 2014, the Nexa Center will take the role of coordinator of the Network over a 2-years period: this will represent an important commitment for the coming years, as well as a unique opportunity to perform research with other widely recognized institutions in our field.

Juan Carlos De Martin and Marco Ricolfi – Faculty Directors