Building a “digital machine” to study emotions about nature and animals on social media

Isaac Nahon-Serfaty
University of Ottawa
Thursday, 26 October 2023 - 12:00

The object of this project is nature and the “natural” understood as the non-human, including non-human sentient beings, the plant and mineral kingdoms. The main goal is to expand our understanding of the economy of emotions in the digital communication ecosystem to the field of nature and the “natural” that are part of several public discourses (e.g. ecologism, animal rights, green activism, veganism, etc.). Placing the visually grotesque (i.e. disruptive, shocking) and kitschy (i.e. sentimentalism, cloying, cute) in the communication battleground of nature and the “natural” contributes to highlight the role of emotions in shaping public ideas, perceptions, opinions, attitudes and behaviours about nature and non-human animals. In this particular lecture, we will present the methodology of this research by focusing on the creation of a “digital machine” using algorithms, AI, and other programming tools to analyze texts, emojis, images and online conversations. This “digital machine” will help us to discover the emotional strategies of Greenpeace, WWF and PETA on Twitter (now X). This tool will also be used to reveal the interactions between users and these organizations, observing the emotional convergences, dissonances and ambiguities during their communicative exchanges.


Ciudad Politécnica de la Innovación
Edificio 8E, Acceso J, Planta 3ª (Salón de Actos. Cubo Rojo)
Universidad Politécnica de Valencia | Camino de Vera s/n

Short CV: 

Isaac Nahón-Serfaty (MSc, PhD, Université de Montréal) is a scholar, writer and consultant in organizational communication, with extensive experience in health communication, crisis management, and corporate social responsibility. He is interested in studying the role of the senses and emotions in our perception of the world and interaction with other beings. His book Strategic Communication and Deformative Transparency. Persuasion in politics, propaganda and public health (Routledge, 2019) explores the representations of the grotesque in public health, politics and terrorism. He is currently studying the role of the visually kitsch and grotesque in environmental and “animalist” communication through the design of a “digital machine” to analyze emotions about nature and non-human animas on social media. He is Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Ottawa (Canada). He was born in Tangier (Morocco). At six, he moved to Venezuela with his parents and sister. He has lived in Ottawa for the last 16 years. His plurilingual and pluricultural experiences influence his communication research and literary work. He co-wrote with Meir Magar the novel La conjura del esplendor (Medata, 2016).  

Christian Alejandro Del Corral Remedios. I am currently a software developer mainly focused on the creation, update and maintenance of microservices based on Spring Framework of Java, using techniques that allow me to develop securiticized services, with good performance and integrable between different systems. This work experience is based on the studies of back-end development, whose culmination gives me the title of Senior Technician in Multiplatform Applications Development, in addition to other studies that I am currently doing and that I will finish for the year 2024 focused on the front-end branch of Web Application Development.