Niccolò Tempini

Information, Data, Technology & Society

I am a researcher interested in understanding how society changes in association with the diffusion of digital information technology and data. Welcome to my personal webpage.

My background is interdisciplinary – I hold degrees in Philosophy (Italian MPhil and BA equivalents, Università Vita-Salute San Raffaele) and in Information Systems (MSc and PhD, London School of Economics and Political Science), and I try to make these components combine in my work. Currently I am Research Fellow in Data Studies at the Egenis Centre for the Study of the Life Sciences (Sociology, Philosophy and Anthropology Department), University of Exeter, and Turing Fellow at the Alan Turing Institute, the UK's national institute of data science and artificial intelligence research.

In the tabs below you can find some in-depth information. Please do get in touch if you would like to visit us. Or for any other query!

last update: 17th November 2018

Currently, my research is focused on a set of world-leading projects in the biomedical domain. Their common feature is a focus on re-using, linking, generating and sharing vast quantities of scientific and administrative data from resources that have been made available from a variety of distributed actors and institutions. The results of this intensive fieldwork are now starting to take shape and they will contribute to a growing debate on the implications and opportunities of new developments around digital data.

Since my PhD research I have directly studied, and actively participated in, the development of data-intensive research infrastructures. These projects rely on online databases and advanced data management techniques of classification, aggregation and computation to foster or make possible new kinds of research processes and arrangements. They sit at the interface of computer and information science and the biomedical disciplines. There are important phenomena associated to this convergence that I think are extremely important to scholarship, associated to change in work processes and work roles, the shifting boundaries of formal organizations and institutions, the role of data and technology as organizational and collaboration devices and the translation of evidence as data travel across contexts and is associated to changes in research methods, techniques forms of expertise, and epistemic standards.

Following studies in Philosophy (BA, MA) and Information Systems (MSc), I was awarded a PhD in Information Systems from the London School of Economics and Political Science. The dissertation, passed with no corrections, focused on the management of distributed social media networks for medical scientific research involving patient self-reporting. Through the embedded case study of PatientsLikeMe – an organization that collects health data from distributed patients and uses the data for conducting medical research – I have been looking at how technology is developed to govern the patient user base and produce the information fuelling the organisation’s research business model. The research showed how medical research outcomes are linked to new infrastructural and organizational arrangements, and explores the consequences of these new socio-technical configurations. This research was developed also through the collaboration with the Social Science, Health and Medicine department at King's College of London, to which I was affiliated throughout the duration of the project.

I had the luck to practice and teach information systems extensively. Both in research collaborations and in the classroom I have been interested in problems of information systems engineering, interaction design, data management, and the organization of distributed digital work. Collaborators in academia and external organizations (start-ups) appreciated my thinking out of the box and the diversity of my interests and skills. My students appreciated structure and breadth in the way we approached the topics of interest.

My research interests are broad and include data-related phenomena (e.g. big data, social data, information infrastructures, platforms, standards, formalization, experiential computing, social media, health and bio informatics) and the social practices and processes which these phenomena are intersecting with (e.g. scientific research, biosociality, citizen science, distributed participation, security, value and time). I have reviewed for a number of international journals from multiple disciplines and I am member of several professional societies: Association for Studies of Innovation, Science and Technology (AsSIST UK), Society for Social Studies of Science (4S), Society for the Philosophy of Information (SPI), Association for Information Systems (AIS), European Group for Organizational Studies (EGOS), International Society for the History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Biology (ISHPSSB) (2017–), European Philosophy of Science Association (EPSA).

More on my CV, available on request!

Most of my writing is listed in this page. I try to make my work freely available wherever possible... Here the list is provided with links to downloadable versions of my work.

Peer-reviewed Journals

  • 2019. Is the genie out of the bottle? Digital platforms and the future of clinical trials. Economy & Society, 48(1). Co-author: David Teira.
    Open Access DOI item here. Pre-publication manuscript here.
  • 2018. Concealment and Discovery: The Role of Information Security in Biomedical Data Re-Use. Social Studies of Science, 48(5) 663-690. Co-author: Sabina Leonelli.
    Open Access DOI item here. Pre-publication manuscript here.
  • 2018. Where Health and Environment Meet: The Use of Invariant Parameters for Big Data Analysis. Synthese. Co-author: Sabina Leonelli.
    Open Access DOI item here. Pre-publication manuscript here.
  • 2018. Digital Orphans: Data closure and openness in patient-powered networks. Biosocieties. Co-author: Lorenzo Del Savio.
    DOI item here. Pre-publication manuscript here.
  • 2017. Till Data Do Us Part: Understanding Data-based Value Creation in Data-Intensive Infrastructures. Information & Organization 27(4) 191-210.
    DOI item here. Pre-publication manuscript here.
  • 2016. Emerging ethical issues regarding digital health data. On the World Medical Association Draft Declaration on Ethical Considerations Regarding Health Databases and Biobanks. Croatian Medical Journal, 57(2) 207-213. Co-authors: Christine Aicardi, Lorenzo Del Savio, Edward S. Dove, Federica Lucivero, Barbara Prainsack.
    DOI item here (Open Access).
  • 2016. Live by data, die by data. Nature Physics, 12(2) 109-110. Co-author: Sabina Leonelli.
    DOI item here. Pre-publication manuscript here.
  • 2015. E-government and organizational change: Reappraising the role of ICT and bureaucracy in public service delivery. Government Information Quarterly, 32(3) 279-286. Co-author: Antonio Cordella.
    DOI item here. Pre-publication manuscript here.
  • 2015. Governing PatientsLikeMe: Information Production and Research through an Open, Distributed and Data-Based Social Media Network. The Information Society, 31(2) 193-211.
    DOI item here. Pre-publication manuscript here (limited number of free eprints here).
  • 2014. Patient Data as Medical Facts: Social Media Practices as a Foundation for Medical Knowledge Creation. Information Systems Research, 25(4) 817-833. Co-author: Jannis Kallinikos.
    DOI item here. Pre-publication manuscript here.
  • 2014. Everything Counts in Large Amounts: A Critical Realist Case Study on Data-Based Production. Journal of Information Technology, 29(1) 97–110. Co-author: Aleksi Aaltonen.
    DOI item here. Pre-publication manuscript here (publisher download free for limited time from Palgrave's Special "Virtual Issue" here).

Book Chapters

  • 2018. Genomics and Big Data in Biomedicine. In Routledge Handbook of Genomics, Health & Society, S. Gibbon, B. Prainsack, S. Hilgartner, & J. Lamoreaux (Eds.), London: Routledge. Co-author: Sabina Leonelli.
    Book publisher page here. Pre-publication manuscript here.
  • 2015. Everything counts in large amounts: a critical realist case study on data-based production. In Formulating Research Methods for Information Systems, L.P. Willcocks, C. Sauer, M. Lacity (Eds.), London:Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 325–357. Co-author: Aleksi Aaltonen.
    Book publisher page here. Pre-publication manuscript here.

Encyclopedia Articles

  • 2017. Big Data in Environment and Human Health. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Environmental Science, Oxford University Press. Co-authors: Lora Fleming, Harriet Gordon-Brown, Gordon L. Nichols, Christophe Sarran, Paolo Vineis, Giovanni Leonardi, Brian Golding, Andy Haines, Anthony Kessel, Virginia Murray, Michael Depledge, Sabina Leonelli.
    DOI item here. Pre-publication manuscript here.
  • 2017. PatientsLikeMe. Encyclopedia of Big Data, Springer.
    DOI item here. Pre-publication manuscript here.
  • 2015. Human Genome Project, Personalised Medicine and Future Health Care. eLS Encyclopedia of the Life Sciences. London: Wiley-Blackwell. Co-author: Sabina Leonelli.
    DOI item here Pre-publication manuscript here.

Conference proceedings (other conference presentations in the Talks tab)

  • 2016. Science Through the “Golden Security Triangle”: Information Security and Data Journeys in Data-intensive Biomedicine. International Conference for Information Systems (ICIS) Dublin, December 11-14th. Conference website here.
    Manuscript download here.
  • 2015. Time in Boundary Infrastructures: On Speed and Collaboration in Social Media Research Networks The 5th international workshop on Infrastructures for healthcare (IHC): Patient-centred Care and Patient generated Data, Trento, June 18-19th. Workshop link here.
    Request manuscript here (address above).
  • 2013. The paradox of context flexibility: balancing user engagement and semantic context in distributed data collection. International Conference for Information Systems (ICIS) Doctoral Consortium, Università Bocconi, Milan, December 12-14th.
  • 2013. The paradox of context flexibility: balancing user engagement and semantic context in distributed data collection. 29th EGOS Colloquium - European Group of Organizational Studies. HEC, Montreal.
    Manuscript download here.
  • 2011. Post-material Meditations: On Data Tokens, Knowledge and Behaviour. 27th EGOS Colloquium - European Group of Organizational Studies. Gothenburg University, Sweden. Co-author: Jannis Kallinikos.
    Manuscript download here.
  • 2011. E- Government and Bureaucracy: The Role of Functional Simplification in the Case of the Venice Municipality. TGov ’11. Brunel University, Uxbridge, UK. Co-author: Antonio Cordella.
    Manuscript download here.

Blog and Magazine Articles

  • 2013. Book review: Big Data: a revolution that will transform how we live, work, and think. LSE Review of Books, 02 May 2013.
    LSE repository download here.
    Reprinted abridged on Mercury 2(5/6): 25-26. This version here.
  • 2013. Book review: 'Raw data' is an oxymoron. LSE Review of Books, 09 April 2013.
    LSE repository download here.

PhD Thesis

  • 2014. Governing Social Media: Organising information production and sociality through open, distributed and data-based systems. Doctoral Dissertation. London: London School of Economics and Political Science.
    LSE repository download here.

Translations

  • 2016. Pensieri di Sociologia della Brexit. By Will Davies, Goldsmiths College. I translated Davies to Italian on Lavoro Culturale, 04 July 2016.
    Available here.

If you would like the slides, it is possible, but please drop a line (address above).

Invited Seminars or Talks

  • 2019, Actionable Data for Precision Oncology: Developing a Trustworthy Data Source. Research Seminar, Science, Technology and Innovation Studies Department, University of Edinburgh, 18th February.
  • 2018, Concealment and Discovery: The Role of Information Security in Biomedical Data Re-Use. Research Seminar, Institute of Public Goods and Policies, CSIS, Madrid, 20th November.
  • 2018, Actionable Data for Precision Oncology: Developing a Trustworthy Data Source. Talk, "Organizational and epistemic innovation in precision cancer medicine" Workshop, Centre for the Sociology of Organisations, Sciences Po and CNRS, Paris, 12-13th November.
  • 2018, The Reuse of Digital Datasets: Transformation, Recombination and Generation in Data Linkage Practice. Talk, "Scales of Justice: Calculating Norms and Probability" Workshop, University of Kent Law School, London, Institute for Advanced Legal Studies, 22nd June.
  • 2018, The value of participation: Studying biomedical research participation through multiple heterogeneous valuation processes. Keynote (plenary round-table), 7th Science and Technology Studies Conference STS Italia, Padova, 14-16th June 2018.

  • 2018, The genie out of the bottle? Data valuation and circulation challenges for participatory research. Research Seminar, "Health and Big Data" Seminar Series, Center for the Sociology of Innovation CSI - i3, Mines ParisTech, and École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), Paris, 17th May.
  • 2018, Concealment and Discovery: The Role of Information Security in Biomedical Data Re-Use. Research Seminar, Ethox Centre, Big Data Institute, University of Oxford, 9th May.
  • 2018, Produrre conoscenza attraverso la cura dei dati: La costruzione di evidenza affidabile in COSMIC. Talk, "La Cura del Cancro e l’Innovazione Tecnologica: Aspetti Etico-Sociali" Workshop, Università di Padova e Università di Ferrara, Rovigo (Accademia dei Concordi), 13-14th April.
  • 2018, The genie out of the bottle? Data valuation and circulation challenges for participatory research. Research Seminar, "The Boundaries of Truth" Seminar Series, Institute for Science, Innovation and Society, University of Oxford, 27th February.
  • 2017, Data & Society: the context for social sensing (invited comments). “Social sensing of health and wellbeing impacts from pollen and air pollution” Launch Workshop, Exeter, May 23rd.
  • 2017, "PatientsLikeMe": What Happens to Medical Research When Patients Share Their Data Online. Social Epidemiology Seminar Series, Instituto de Salud Carlos III – National School of Public Health, Madrid, April 4th.
  • 2017, Aggregating Dispersed Knowledge (invited comments). "Crowdsourcing/Gatekeeping" Workshop, The Wellcome Collection, London, March 24th.
  • 2016, Concealment and Discovery: The Role of Information Security In Biomedical Data Journeys. "2nd Meeting – The Ethics of Medical Data Analytics: Opportunities and Challenges" Workshop, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, Oxford, December 9th. Co-author: Sabina Leonelli.
  • 2016, Enabling data-intensive science from PHRs: reflections from the study of PatientsLikeMe and some Big Data for Public Health research infrastructures. International eHealth Workshop, Università di Bologna (SPISA), Bologna, June 6-7th. Workshop link, and link to my talk
  • 2016, ‘Til Data Do Us part. How data value creation unites and divides people in social media infrastructures. Seminar, Joint Doctoral Programme in Law Science and Technology, Department of Law, Università di Torino, May 6th.
  • 2016, ‘Til Data Do Us Part. Guest Lecture, Digital Business Models course (BEMM129), University of Exeter, March 16th.
  • 2015, ‘Til Data Do Us Part: On data, data structures and the commensuration of value forms in social media infrastructures. Research Seminar, Department of Philosophy, University of Bristol, December 9th.
  • 2015, ‘Til Data Do Us Part: On data, data structures and the commensuration of value forms in social media infrastructures. Research Seminar, Institute for Experimental Medicine, Christian-Albrechts Universität (Kiel), December 7th.
  • 2015, Developing research information infrastructures: Some dimensions. ‘Building a Neuroscience Community: Community modelling and data repositories’, Human Brain Project workshop, Fondation Brocher, Geneva, 11–13th June 2015. Workshop link
  • 2014, Social Data as Medical Facts: Web-based Practices of Expert Knowledge Creation. Biosocial Relations and Hierarchies mini-symposium, Department of Social Science, Health and Medicine, KCL, May 16th.
  • 2014, Social Data as Medical Facts: Web-based Practices of Expert Knowledge Creation. 14th Social Studies of Information Technology Workshop, LSE, April 25th. Delivered jointly with Jannis Kallinikos.
  • 2014, Social Data as Medical Facts: Web-based Practices of Expert Knowledge Creation. Judge Business School, University of Cambridge, April 1st.
  • 2014, The paradox of context flexibility: balancing user engagement and semantic context in distributed data collection. WIP guest, Department of Social Science, Health and Medicine, KCL, January 21st.

Conference submissions

  • 2018. Is the Genie Out of the Bottle? Digital Platforms and the Future of Clinical Trials. 4th Post-Normal Science Symposium, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Barcelona, 15-17 November 2018. Conference website here.
  • 2018. Making Knowledge Through Data Curation: Constructing Trustworthy Evidence in COSMIC. EASST 2018, Conference of the European Association for the Study of Science and Technology, University of Lancaster, Lancaster, 25-28th July 2018. Conference website here.
  • 2018. Making Sense of Precision Data: The Role of Pathfinder Processes and New Information Products in Precision Medicine Infrastructures. SPSP 2018, Conference of the Society for Philosophy of Science in Practice, University of Ghent, Ghent, 29th June-2nd July 2018. Conference website here.
  • 2018. Data as Currency: Beyond the Metaphor. STS Italia 2018, Conference of the Italian Society for Science and Technology Studies, University of Padova, Padova, 14-16th June 2018. Conference website here.
  • 2017. The Reuse of Digital Datasets: Transformation, Recombination and Generation in Data Linkage Practice. 4th Exeter Data Studies workshop "Varieties of Data Journeys: Data Processing and Movements Within and Across Practices", Exeter, 2-3rd Nov 2017. Conference website here.
  • 2017. Policy of Truth: Data Journeys from the Patient to the Pharmaceutical Regulator. 4th Exeter Data Studies workshop "Varieties of Data Journeys: Data Processing and Movements Within and Across Practices", Exeter, 2-3rd Nov 2017. Conference website here. Co-author: David Teira.
  • 2017. Where Health and Environment Meet: Geolocation as Invariance Strategy for Integrating Diverse Data Sources. EPSA17 Conference of the European Philosophy of Science Association, University of Exeter, Exeter, 6-9th September 2017. Conference website here. Co-author: Sabina Leonelli.
  • 2017, Collaborative Science and the Epistemic Role of Project Management: the Case of a Multi-partner, Interdisciplinary Research and Infrastructure Project. 2017 Meeting of the International Society for the History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Biology (ISHPSSB), University of Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, 16-21st July 2017. Conference website here.
  • 2017, Where Health and Environment Meet: Geolocation as Invariance Strategy for Integrating Diverse Data Sources. 2017 Meeting of the International Society for the History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Biology (ISHPSSB), University of Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, 16-21st July 2017. Conference website here. Co-author: Sabina Leonelli.
  • 2017, Unblinding NP001, or, Preferences Out of Control. Critical Studies of Citizen Science Workshop, King's College of London, London, 2-3rd March. Co-author: David Teira (UNED). Workshop link here.
  • 2017, Till Data Do Us Part: Understanding Data-based Value Creation in Data-Intensive Infrastructures. 3rd Exeter Data Studies workshop ‘Data Journeys in Biomedicine: Research Translation and Infrastructure Management’, Exeter, 11-13th Jan 2017. Workshop programme here.
  • 2017, Concealment and Discovery: The Role of Information Security In Biomedical Data Journeys. 3rd Exeter Data Studies workshop ‘Data Journeys in Biomedicine: Research Translation and Infrastructure Management’, Exeter, 11-13th Jan 2017. Workshop programme here. Co-author: Sabina Leonelli.
  • 2016. Science Through the “Golden Security Triangle”: Information Security and Data Journeys in Data-intensive Biomedicine. International Conference for Information Systems (ICIS) Dublin, December 11-14th. Conference website here.
    Manuscript download here.
  • 2016. –Poster– Groundwork for an Epistemology of Data-Intensive Science: Investigating Data Journeys Across Scientific Fields. Philosophy of Science Association (PSA) Conference, Atlanta, Nov 3-5th. Co-authors: Gregor Halfmann and Sabina Leonelli.
  • 2016. Linkage, Exploration and Gatekeeping: The Role of Information Security In Biomedical Data Journeys. 4S/EASST conference, Barcelona, August 31st–September 3rd. Co-author: Sabina Leonelli. Conference website here.
  • 2016. Time in Boundary Infrastructures: On Speed and Collaboration in Social Media Research Networks. 5th Spaces of Evidence Workshop, Exeter, May 16-17th. Workshop link here.
  • 2015. Time in Boundary Infrastructures: On Speed and Collaboration in Social Media Research Networks The 5th international workshop on Infrastructures for healthcare (IHC): Patient-centred Care and Patient generated Data, Trento, June 18-19th. Workshop link here.
    Request manuscript here (address above).
  • 2014. –Poster– PatientsLikeMe.com: Developing medical research through social data. 4th LSE Research Festival, May 8th.
  • 2013. The paradox of context flexibility: balancing user engagement and semantic context in distributed data collection. International Conference for Information Systems (ICIS) Doctoral Consortium, Università Bocconi, Milan, December 12-14th.
  • 2013. The paradox of context flexibility: balancing user engagement and semantic context in distributed data collection. 29th EGOS Colloquium - European Group of Organizational Studies. HEC, Montreal.
    Manuscript download here.
  • 2011. Post-material Meditations: On Data Tokens, Knowledge and Behaviour. 27th EGOS Colloquium - European Group of Organizational Studies. Gothenburg University, Sweden. Co-author: Jannis Kallinikos.
    Manuscript download here.
  • 2011. E- Government and Bureaucracy: The Role of Functional Simplification in the Case of the Venice Municipality. TGov ’11. Brunel University, Uxbridge, UK. Co-author: Antonio Cordella.
    Manuscript download here.

Upcoming events, links to web profiles & full CV

I try to keep this up-to-date... ;)

  • My Turing Fellow page at the Alan Turing Institute briefly describes the kind of work I am planning to achieve during my time there: Alan Turing Institute page.
  • Tuesday 20th November 2018 I will give a seminar on information security in Madrid, at the Institute for Policy and Public Good. Please see here for details: IPP page.
  • Monday 18th February 2019 I will give a seminar on my fieldwork in cancer genomics in Edinburgh, at the Department of Science, Technology and Innovation Studies. Please see here for details: STIS page.
  • 4-5th February 2019 I will be in Milan for the Data Science and Social Research conference: DSSR 2019.
  • Sometime late 2019 a volume should be published, edited by Sabina Leonelli and myself, about big data practices in the sciences. It will be the culmination of the "epistemology of data-intensive science" project at Exeter, and I can assure you we have a fantastic group of contributors. Watch that space!

Here are links to my ResearchGate and LinkedIn profiles, which should (almost) always be up to date.

Please also find me on Twitter!

Please message me to request my full CV.

If the website does not work, or have any other question, again please drop a line.