Workshop: Scraping Political Data (Web Hacking Techniques)

Hours: 11AM-5PM
Cost: $210

Tuesday July 10, 11AM-5PM & Tuesday July 17, 11AM-5PM

Workshop Description: The workshop will introduce the basic philosophy and practical application of transparency activism through the use of smart hacks over web platforms. Ownership, privacy and the geopolitical use of data will be examined through case histories of ethical and legal issues with a special focus on financial and corporate data in relation to the recent financial meltdown and subsequent protests.

The workshop will seek to develop methodologies and mechanisms for exploring creative and unconventional uses of political data over the web. It will reveal smart ways to access data that is considered public but held hostage by its containers. The practical session of the workshop will introduce some simple software, coding, techniques and tricks to extract data from web servers through robots on clusters of machines or perpetual subroutines.

Access and fair use of Open Data is becoming pivotal for accelerating the development of our society and resolving the present dysfunctionalities. Although many governmental and private institutions have recently started to provide their rich data to the public, there is still much to fight in order to reach the level of transparency necessary for a new form of enhanced radical democracy. For instance the unsolved legal case of WikiLeaks made a historical point about the political power of information when it was opened up and fairly distributed thanks to information technology.

Software that will be explored during the workshop: IMacro, Fake, Scraperwiki, Beautiful Soup, Scrapy, etc.

Code that will be explored: PHP, Phynton, Sql, JavaScript, DHTML, etc.

Workshop Instructor: Paolo Cirio is well known for web-hacktivism through projects such as Face to Facebook, Google Will Eat Itself and Amazon Noir. He was part of the legendary Italian net-art collective Epidemic which has created visionary viruses and P2P software. At the age of twenty-two he was investigated by the Department of National Defense of Canada and the USA for his innovative DDOS attacks on NATO’s website though a Flash script.


  • If possible, bring your own Mac laptop.
  • Knowledge of coding is not necessary, but very welcome.
  • Minimum age:  18 or high school graduate.

Cost/RegistrationSign up here.

More info…

People: Paolo Cirio
Research: Open Culture