Mini-workshop: Political Science meets Computer Science
Speaker: Prof. Nils Weidmann, Prof. Xenofontas Dimitropoulos , Petros Gigis
Date: 06 October 2015 Time: 12:00 - 13:30
Location: "Alkiviades C. Payatakes" Seminar Room, FORTH, Heraklion, Crete
Host: Prof. Xenofontas Dimitropoulos


Talk 1: Digital Discrimination? Ethnicity and Internet Access in a Global Perspective, Nils Weidmann

The global expansion of modern information and communication technology is increasingly affecting also the less developed regions of the world. Many argue that this technology is able to spur political mobilization and dissent. In this paper, we turn the question around. Rather than asking about the effects of technology, we go one step back and ask whether governments allow their marginalized populations access to modern communication channels such as the Internet in the first place. By using a newly developed measure of Internet penetration that relies on remote network measurements and combining it with data about ethnic group settlement regions, we show that political exclusion is a strong and robust predictor of lower Internet penetration at the group level. Thus, we conclude that digital discrimination for political reasons is real, which casts doubt on the assumption that ICT-induced ethnic mobilization will be able to improve the situation of marginalized ethnic populations.

Talk 2/Demo: Estimating Global Internet Penetration from Network Measurements, Petros Gigis/Xenofontas Dimitropoulos

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) provide Internet penetration statistics, which are collected from official national sources worldwide, and they are widely used to inform policymakers and researchers about the expansion of digital technologies. Nevertheless, these statistics are derived with methodologies, which are often opaque and inconsistent across countries. In this work, we make a first attempt to evaluate the consistency of the ITU/OECD Internet penetration statistics with an alternative indicator of Internet penetration, which can be measured with a consistent methodology across countries and relies on open data. We compare, in particular, the ITU and OECD statistics with measurements of the used IPv4 address space across countries and find very high correlations ranging between 0.898 and 0.978 for all years between 2006 and 2010. We then introduce inter-active visualizations of Internet growth, measured with our methodology, versus various political and economical indicators, such as 1) the GDP and corruption index of the 92 biggest countries in population and 2) the electoral results for the different states within US.


Nils Weidmann is Professor of Political Science and head of the "Communication, Networks and Contention" Research Group at the Department of Politics and Public Administration, University of Konstanz. Previously, he has held research fellowships at the Centre for the Study of Civil War, Peace Research Institute Oslo (2011-12), the Jackson Institute, Yale University (2010-11), and the Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University (2009-10). He received a M.Sc. in Computer Science from the University of Freiburg (Germany) in 2003, a M.A. in Comparative and International Studies from ETH Zurich (Switzerland) in 2008 and a Ph.D. in Political Science from ETH Zurich in 2009.

Petros Gigis is a 4th year undergraduate student in the Computer Science Department of the University of Crete. His research interests are in computer networks, Internet measurements, and software defined networks.

Xenofontas Dimitropoulos is an Assistant Professor at the University of Crete and Affiliated Researcher to the Foundation for Research and Technology Hellas (FORTH), where he leads the Internet Research Group.He received a PhD degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology. His research focuses on software defined networks and Internet measurements. The European Research Council, a Marie Curie Grant and a Fulbright Scholarship have supported his research. He has won two best paper awards and has served in the committee of ACM SIGCOMM.

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