Emergent Culture

Matteo Ciastellardi, Researcher

My name is Matteo Ciastellardi and I hold a Degree in Philosophy and a PhD in Industrial Design and Media Communication. After finishing my PhD I was called to work in Barcelona for IN3, the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute of the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, directed by Manuel Castells. I spent five years in Spain as a researcher in the Digital Culture program directed by Derrick de Kerckhove, then I was awarded a research fellowship through the Rita Levi Montalcini MIUR program for brain gain. This is how I joined the Politecnico di Milano where I am now an Assistant professor (RTD-B). I teach Media Sociology and Cultural Process Sociology.

I belong to the Design & Culture section, within which I lead a cross-disciplinary research on emerging network models: how information, participation and exchange models are structured within the web and which design needs will be required in order to develop tools directed towards sustaining knowledge and grassroot ecosystems.

Matteo Ciastellardi

Design dell’informazione e conoscenza nei modelli bottom-up e della rete

Hybrid ontologies

The main line of research which I deal with concerns in particular the study of distribution, sharing and exchange models based on the concept of “hybrid ontologies”: an approach which needs to lead off from social media in order to manage the complexity of information produced in online networks and communities within a converging framework for managing knowledge. By analysing data from the web (B.I.G. Data within the meaning of Blended Interest Graph, data which meets different trends linked to various media), the objective is to map the propagation and absorption structure of information, to observe the human aspects of coding and decoding the network grammar (tied to the capacity, training and participation of people), and to consider the formal aspects related both to the architecture of the systems employed and to the design capacity and sustainable models of the stakeholders. The aim is to understand and document the transition from hierarchical forms of classifying systems (ontologies), to hybrid and participating design structures of online information, noting the growth of popular taxonomy (folksonomy), based on trends, social lifestreams and emerging phenomena which are the result of spreadable models.

Cultural Analytics

An important aspect of my research at the Politecnico di Milano, directly connected to the previous branch, is characterised by attention towards Cultural Analytics, that is, to exploring large quantities of data (big data) divided into datasets of visual and textual materials (images, hashtags, posts, texts, etc.) collected by the web, organised and analysed according to different abstraction patterns, so as to offer an incisive cross section of contemporary cultural models. In this particular situation, together with a research group from the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, our research group at the Politecnico di Milano has developed the Selfiestories project, aimed at mapping and understanding the phenomenon of self-representation through the use of selfies (self-portraits with a mobile phone) particularly among young people, providing a perspective of social analysis by using the distinctive investigation and observation techniques of Communication Design.

Transmedia Literacy

A further aspect of my research at the Politecnico di Milano, supporting and consistent with the outlined activities, focuses on the issue of Transmedia Literacy, that is a process of multi-platform education, rooted in the emerging network cultures, which is characterised by producing and transmitting knowledge through multiple media, often as bottom-up, throughout the whole day, in a non-predetermined manner, with participation and engagement methods which require a new threshold for designing practices, contents and platforms. To this end, we have implemented the International Journal of Transmedia Literacy, an open-access international magazine based on double blind peer review, of which I am Editor-in-Chief.


Via Durando 38/A - 20158 Milano
Reception02 2399 5837


Marita Canina,  Paola Checchi, Alberto Colorni, Annalinda De Rosa, Giulia Gerosa, Ilaria Mariani, Francesca Piredda, Lucia Rampino, Anne Schoonbrodt, Carlo Emilio Standoli, Lia Tagliavini