What does the Internet add? Studying extremism and counter-jihadism online

International Workshop and Data Sprint
14-18 January 2013

New Media & Digital Culture
University of Amsterdam
Turfdraasterpad 9
1012 XT Amsterdam
9.30 - 17hrs.

Monday, 14 January, 9.30
Festive opening session:
Nina van Leer zaal
Special Collections
Oude Turfmarkt 129

The workshop is dedicated to the phenomenon of anti-islamism (aka counter-jihadism), and its online study. In particular the focus is on what Internet analysis adds to the picture. Going native (embedding researchers), surveying experts, eye witnessing, recording demonstrations and marches, analysing manifestos, interviewing ex-extremists or imprisoned ones, and surveying current members and sympathisers -- these are often the methods employed to study extremism. The workshop begins with presentations by renowned researchers and scholars of extremism, where the current analytical needs are presented. Thereafter teams of Internet researchers and web analysts spend a week online, analysing extremism networks and social media use, striving to meet the analytical needs presented by the scholars of extremism (in part) through online data analysis. Apart from analyses of online networks and social media use, the workshop also focuses on two areas which have proven useful to date in Internet work on the right-wing: longitudinal analysis of archived websites, and digital forensics. The study by Joep Dohmen of the NRC Handelsblad some years ago found that right-wing websites increasingly employed the language found on extremist sites, thereby concluding that Dutch culture was hardening. Some 100 archived websites were analysed for word use and sentiment, which leads to the question of whether a special collection (of extremist and right-wing websites) may be made and query machines developed to analyse its contents. The second area of Internet analysis that may prove useful is digital forensics or e-discovery, where means of detection and diagnosis are undertaken, for example to determine a fake account, or a bot network. The investigative and evidentiary use of Internet data are two areas of interest, though other techniques and data sets also will be explored, including extremist search queries or tweets, and the places of those expressions. Are we able to geolocate pockets of extremist speech online? Also of interest are Wikipedia articles that are edited and maintained by extremists, located perhaps through links from dedicated Facebook pages and groups or other referencing. Social media analysis similarly would begin by liking or joining, and by subsequently harvesting data. One avenue of analysis would be to derive different extremist types, depending on their liking, commenting, following, messaging and other behaviours. Here the question again is what does the Internet and Internet analysis add to the analysis of extremism?

The workshop assumes the format of a "data sprint," a short-form method for data collection, analysis and reporting. The outputs are media lab reports in the style of wiki pages, e.g., the climate change skeptics analysis. Each media lab report contains a title, introduction, set of questions, methods, findings as well as discussion, which could include both limitations as well as prospects for further work and other avenues of inquiry. Crucially, the media lab work is directed at the analytical needs of the subject matter experts, scholars and analysts of extremism, seeking to answer the questions not only of what the internet can add, but also ones that animate Internet-related research, and digital methods as an approach. How to diagnose societal condition with the Internet? May one monitor extremism through online measures? What form would a global extremism monitor apparatus assume? Which inputs would it take, and would the outputs satisfy the extremism scholars? These are some of the larger issues that also inform the workshop.

The workshop is a Digital Methods Initiative production in collaboration with Hope not Hate of London and Political Science at the University of Amsterdam. The opening session, Counter-Jihadism, is organised by Saskia Kok. The workshop director is Richard Rogers, working in collaboration with Erik Borra and Bernhard Rieder. The data sprint is part of the Digital Methods course, in the MA Program on New Media and Digital Culture, University of Amsterdam.

Banner image: Country right-wing profile - Denmark. Digital Methods Initiative, Amsterdam and Density Design, Milan, product of the Mapping Populism Workshop, September, 2012.

Project pages

  • ProjectGroup1 Liked, Shared and Commented on: Measuring successful content within Counter-Jihad Facebook space
  • ProjectGroup2 Online Activity of the English Defense League
  • ProjectGroup3 Analysis of the Most Popular Content on an Anti-Islamic Facebook Page
  • ProjectGroup4 Slacktivism reconsidered: Most Engaging Content Types and Features in Counter-Jihadist Groups and Pages on Facebook
  • ProjectGroup5 My Enemy’s Enemy’s my friend: Mapping & Comparing Counter-Jihad and Pro-Israel Support on Social Networks
  • ProjectGroup6 Counter-jihadist literature: A network of radical authors and their influence online
  • ProjectGroup7 Counter-jihadism on Facebook: Mapping Connections between Organizations in Europe
  • ProjectGroup8 Islam, Hate and the Mainstream Internet: A Cross Cultural Study of Actors and Sentiment on Google
  • ProjectGroup9 Counter-Jihadism online: The Delhi and the Mali Case.
  • ProjectGroup10 Reading the Counter-Jihad Discourse
  • ProjectGroup11 Studying Geert Wilders’ Counter-Jihadism Discourse on Twitter

See WikiSyntax for formatting help.
Topic attachments
I Attachment Action Size Date Who Comment
Reader_counter-jihadism.pdfpdf Reader_counter-jihadism.pdf manage 6 MB 21 Dec 2012 - 11:20 RichardRogers Counter-jihadism workshop reader
denmark_right-wing_map.pngpng denmark_right-wing_map.png manage 110 K 18 Dec 2012 - 15:31 RichardRogers denmark right-wing map
Topic revision: r17 - 20 Sep 2013, RichardRogers
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