COST Action TD1210: "Analyzing the dynamics of information and knowledge landscapes - KNOWeSCAPE"

The COST TD1210 action aims at the design of knowledge maps and new information retrieval models for the study and navigation of large information spaces. To this end, the action creates an interdisciplinary forum involving experts from library and information science, mathematics, physics, social sciences, communication design, economics and computer science. The combined expertise of these diverse communities will be used to advance the analysis of large knowledge spaces and to improve our understanding of behavioral patterns underlying content generation, navigation and consumption. Based on the resulting models for social dynamics in collaborative knowledge spaces like Wikipedia or Mendeley, novel methods for the classification, representation, navigation and visualization of knowledge in terms of interactive knowledge maps will be developed.

The COST TD1210 action grew out of a number of European activities, in particular the previous, highly successful COST MP0801 action "Physics of Competition and Conflicts'' which ended in Summer 2012. A major focus of COST MP0801 was the application of physics concepts to the modeling and analysis of social systems with strategically interacting agents. Similarly, COST TD1210 seeks to apply an interdisciplinary, quantitative approach to the modeling and analysis of information spaces and the design of novel retrieval, recommendation and visualization methods that are inspired by social mechanism of content navigation and evaluation. COST TD1210 has the advantage to build on an already established European network of collaborations, which will be extended by new nodes with particular competence in the representation, classification and mining of information in large knowledge repositories.

One of the main objectives of the COST TD1210 action is to apply methods and abstractions developed in statistical physics, mathematics, and computer science to improve our understanding of knowledge spaces and the knowledge ordering processes applied to them. As such, the COST TD1210 action represents a timely and important contribution to the interdisciplinary study of socio-technical systems. By fostering the application of concepts from natural sciences in the (digital) humanities, it effectively contributes to the development of the comparably young field of modeling socio-technical systems from a quantitative perspective.

Working Groups

The scientific programme of the COST TD1210 action rests on four mutually related Working Groups (WG):

  • WG 1 “Phenomenology of knowledge spaces”
    – The main scientific objective is to develop novel data mining and pattern recognition techniques for large scale information spaces
    – This will be done by means of an analysis of knowledge order systems that are applied to collections of libraries, online archives and bibilographic databases
    – A specific focus will be on the analysis of the structure and dynamics of collaborative knowledge and information spaces and the behavioral patterns emerging within them
  • WG 2 “Theory of knowledge spaces”
    – The main objective is to derive non-linear, dynamic models of cognitive and social mechanismus underlying the emergence of knowledge spaces and knowledge order systems studied in WG1
    – For this, models of trust, reputation and social dynamics will be developed and analyzed
  • WG 3 “Visual analytics of knowledge spaces - knowledge maps”
    – The main goal of this work group is to develop visualization principles for knowledge spaces in the form of so-called knowledge maps
    – Different types of knowledge maps and clustering-based visualizations of scientific fields will be integrated and best practices of knowledge mapping will be developed
  • WG 4 “Data curation and navigation based on knowledge maps”
    – The objective of this work package is to create guidlines for implementation, navigation and retrieval strategies in knowledge spaces
    – Standards for data representation and the use of visual analytics for data curation will be investigated and new information retrieval methods for heterogeneous information spaces will be developed.

The Swiss Chapter of COST TD1210

Quantitative research in the social sciences, using agent-based computer simulations and other techniques developed for complex systems, is still in an infant stage -- not just in Switzerland, but also internationally. This also relates to the fact that social science research receives considerably less external funding, compared to the natural or life sciences. Participating in this action allows the Swiss nodes to quickly improve this situation, by accessing the competence of, and using collaborations with, other European nodes.


The Swiss interest in COST TD1210 can be grouped into three points:

  1. Building up competence
    The ever-growing amount of information available online is an increasing problem also for Swiss researchers. The current lack of automated methods suitable to deal with the vast amount of information is a major challenge. This action will allow Switzerland to participate in the European efforts to build up a multidisciplinary approach towards the extraction of knowledge from large information repositories based on quantitative models for the social dynamics emerging in the creation, navigation and consumption of content.
  2. Broadening of research perspectives
    The research issues addressed in COST TD1210 could lead to new research agendas (and research proposals) in institutions dealing with physics and may initiate new interdisciplinary collaborations between physics, information and library science, computer science as well as social science.
  3. Intensifying European collaborations
    By joining COST TD1210, Switzerland will be able to shape the international research agenda in this strategic domain and to contribute to the  development of the quickly evolving scientific communities dealing with socio-technical systems, data mining and knowledge extraction. The COST TD1210 action will allow Swiss research institutions to initiate and to intensify collaboration with the leading European teams in this field.

National Coordinator:

  • Prof. Dr. Dr. Frank Schweitzer
    Chair of Systems Design, ETH Zurich
    Prof. Schweitzer was the national coordinator and member of the management committee of the previous COST P10 and COST MP0801 action. He was already supporting the European COST TD1210 action at the stage of writing the proposal. From his previous research projects, he has already research contacts to different participating European groups.

National Vice-Coordinator:

  • Prof. Karl Aberer
    Distributed Information Systems Laboratory (LSIR), EPFL Lausanne