A consortium of universities and start-ups target democratisation of social networks

press release, Porto, 2 October 2019

ARTICONF, a pan-European consortium of universities and small businesses is launching its integration meeting today. The consortium was founded in 2019 with a € 4,2 million grant of the European Union Horizon 2020 grant with the aim to set on the path to change the nature of social networks. Founders of ARTICONF believe that social media today does not live up to the possibilities, as it is fragmented, centralised and can be easily abused. All of these are against the principles for which they had been created as well as fall far of the potential it could live up to.

‘What we dream about is creating a vehicle for the collaborative economy’ – says Nishant Saurabh, Scientific Coordinator of the consortium. ‘This vehicle will allow social media to truly revolutionise the internet, while demonstrating full respect to the privacy, security and trust requirements. Today we all suffer of lack of public trust that must be addressed if we want to explore the full potential of social media. In order to do so, we need to agree on some policies democratically. To this end we need to federate the diverse entities of social media’ – says Nishant Saurabh.

The research driven academic members together with the technology and business solution focused startups of ARTICONF have the ambition to create a unified systemic umbrella to support fragmented social networks.

‘We want to set the framework for the next generation of social media’, says Project Coordinator Radu Prodan, from the University of Klagenfurt. ‘Democracy requires effort, and needs significant time for discussion and debates. Democracy in this respect is ‘expensive’. And this is exactly the way how blockchain also operates. It is an expensive technology that a lot of people are reluctant to adopt due to the high computational costs. But it must be done in order to unleash all the potential for example social media carries.’ – concludes Radu Prodan.

During the first 6 months of its operation the consortium has developed 4 user cases to demonstrate the viability of this approach. Validation of crowdsourced news, changing low public awareness of shared mobility, contextualising thematic search of audio-visual metadata and identification of the behavioural convergence of the energy prosumer decisions are all examples where creating and consolidating trust is essential.

‘Let me illustrate this with an example’ – continues Nishant Saurabh. ‘Let us say we have a painter, who wants to monetise their painting. Social media can help them reduce costs of marketing, official overheads and other costs – that is clear. Where ARTICONF can step further is to get the painter to the right subset of users, who are really interested in their paintings. They can do business with them, without involving any third party. It’s like a binding, or federation mechanism of different entities of this diverse social world.’

ARTICONF is launching its members meeting today for academics and startuppers to share and discuss the use cases to demonstrate the first prototypes of their work. Concurrently, technical teams will be running the integration tests with the four tools of the platform. All this will ensure that ARTICONF will effectively contribute to the development of a collaborative economy.

For direct contact with project team, please email Scientific Coordinator Nishant Saurabh and Communication Leader David Sarlos at contact@articonf.eu For more information visit the project website https://articonf.eu and follow @articonf on Twitter.

To see what ARTICONF members will present in the Porto meeting, continue reading!

Porto meeting highlights

Universität Klagenfurt coordinates the “European Social Media Reference Architecture”, a joint whitepaper written in collaboration with a number of partners from the recently established EU Social Media Cluster that connects several European projects, especially from the Science, Technology & The Arts (STARTS, https://www.starts.eu) initiative from the European Comission. The ARTICONF team had in August 2019 an important face-to-face meeting with the other computer science project from the cluster (HELIOS, http://helios-social.eu) at the Euro-Par conference in Göttingen, Germany, to develop a common approach for the definition of this joint social media platform.

University of Amsterdam is working on the infrastructure automation solution for ARTICONF and has been developing an initial prototype of the CONF framework. It will demonstrate its basic features at the integration meeting at Porto.

University of Information Science and Technology (UIST) “St. Paul the Apostle” – Ohrid is working on tools for analytics and cognition (TAC) that improve efficiency and inject intelligent insights into operational and mission-critical social media businesses through guided analytics with social and predictive models is crucial for consumers, prosumers, and business markets. The TAC framework will demonstrate the input traces parser, data aggregation and visualization process at the Porto demonstration meeting.

bitYoga is building the Trust and Integration Controller (TIC) as well as the Smart Energy use case. Currently we are developing the permissioned blockchain for the TIC as well as data storage and a certificate authority. The TIC will demonstrate the initial functionality of the blockchain at Porto.

The University of Edinburgh provides sociological context for the technological development of the ARTICONF social media architecture, as well as the partners’ use cases. The team is now working with UIST to prepare a guided analytics dashboard demo for the Porto meeting.

Agilia Center is working on the car sharing use case which improves operational tasks in car sharing model while rewards users of the service for having proper behaviors. The first prototype of the mobile application will be ready next month to be shown and integrated in ARTICONF environment.

MOG is developing the necessary tools for the crowd journalism use case, namely the mobile streaming application and the cloud based video switcher which will be demonstrated live in the consortium meeting in Porto.

Vialog, building the use case of ‘monetisation for video commenters’, is conducting a pilot with a Category A film festival and will demonstrate a prototype to ARTICONF partners in Porto.