“From International Relations to Global Politics” - Interview with prof. Raffaele Marchetti (February 18th, 2015)

Agatino Grillo: Welcome professor Marchetti. Could you introduce yourself and the Mooc course “From International Relations to Global Politics” of LUISS University.

Raffaele Marchetti: I am an assistant professor (or associate professor using the Italian academic qualifications) in International Relations at the Department of Political Science at the School of Government of LUISS, Libera Università Internazionale degli Studi Sociali Guido Carli (Guido Carli Free International University for Social Studies) one of the most important Italian universities.
I got my degree in Rome University “La Sapienza” and a Phd at the London School of Economics (LSE). For other information you may follow me on twitter at https://twitter.com/rafmarchetti or visit my personal website at http://docenti.luiss.it/rmarchetti/
From International Relations to Global Politics” is the first MOOC - Massive Open Online Course - of LUISS: it started on November 16th, 2015 and will finish after 10 weeks.
The course is held in English so the only requirement to participate is a laptop/desktop computer with a stable internet connection and a very good understanding of English.
I am very excited about it. Not only is one of the first MOOCs on IR, but we already have thousands of enrollments. The fact that there are so many people interested in understanding better and discussing international affairs is simply great. I think this has a huge potential for creating a cross-cultural learning community.

Agatino Grillo:  Could you better explain what is a MOOC?

Raffaele Marchetti: As stated in Wikipedia a MOOC is an online course addressed to unlimited attendants  and open access via web. In addition to traditional course materials such as filmed lectures, readings, and problem sets, many MOOCs provide interactive user forums to support community interactions between students, professors, and teaching assistants (TAs). MOOCs are a recent development in distance education which was first introduced in 2008 and is emerging as the most popular mode of learning nowadays.

Agatino Grillo: What is the format of LUISS “From International Relations to Global Politics” course?

Raffaele Marchetti: Starting from February 16, 2015 every week I will upload a number of videos with the related quizzes which you need to do in order to move on.
Furthermore you will find additional materials and references for your consultation.
Also, from time to time you will have the possibility to discuss in public some contentious issues and to write short essays that will be marked in a peer-to-peer mode. These are optional, however it is an opportunity to learn and engage with the others.

Agatino Grillo:  What is the syllabus?

Raffaele Marchetti: The course is divided into ten units each of them has its own sub-units.
The ten units or chapters are:
Chapter 1  - How to study International Relations
Chapter 2 - Realism
Chapter 3 - Liberalism
Chapter 4 - Marxism and Constructivism
Chapter 5 - Foreign Policy Analysis
Chapter 6 - International Political Economy
Chapter 7 - Security studies
Chapter 8 - Globalization and the context of global politics
Chapter 9 - Global Politics
Finally there will be an optional exam scheduled from April 20th to May 4th 2015

Agatino Grillo: Are there prerequisites?

Raffaele Marchetti:  Just two suggested pre-readings:

1.    Morgenthau, H.J., Politics among Nations: the Struggle for Power and Peace. New York: Knopf, 1985 (available here in pdf format)
2.    Khanna, P., How to Run The World: Charting a Course to the Next Renaissance. New York: Random House, 2010 (available here in pdf format)

Agatino Grillo: Is the course free or it has to be paid?

Raffaele Marchetti: Our Mooc course proposes three different tracks:

  1. Audit Track: it is completely free and includes all course material, possibility to participate at course community, statement of participation
  2. Certificate Track: it costs 49 Euros and add to previous track features, a graded online exam, a certificate of accomplishment and a certificate supplement. A “Certificate of Accomplishment” is an identity-verified certificate with your final grade, signed by the instructor. If you achieve a top 10% grade, this will be noted on your certificate. All our certificates are all identity verified. A “Certificate Supplement”contains detailed information about the course content and your learning achievements, backing up your hard work with the details employers may ask for.
  3. ECTS Track: it costs 149  Euros. As with the Audit Track, you get access to all the course materials, lecture videos, assignments, and more. However, unlike the audit-only option, the ECTS-Track also gives you access to an on-site exam at the end of the course. This exam will be professionally graded by the course instructor. This gives you a chance to showcase the skills you’ve acquired. After successfully completing the on-site exam, you will receive an identity-verified Certificate of Accomplishment with your final grade and 3 ECTS-Points, signed by the instructor. If you achieve a top 10% grade, this will be noted on your certificate.

ECTS or European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System is a standard for comparing the study attainment and performance of students of higher education across the European Union and other collaborating European countries.

Agatino Grillo: Why study the “International Relations?”

Raffaele Marchetti:  Globalization has a considerable influence on contemporary politics. In my opinion today is easier to understand the national and local political positions if we consider them respect to issues of international politics and globalization: integration of markets, delegation of sovereignty, global challenges.

Agatino Grillo: Does it make sense to define oneself as right-wing or left-wing?

Raffaele Marchetti: Inside both sides we have to distinguish those who have open positions towards globalization and who contrasts it. This helps us to understand for example why today in many countries there are centrist governments formed by large coalitions against oppositions of anti-globalist and localist.
Another example comes from the recent European elections in May 2014, where the Eurosceptic parties from the left and right have joined forces against the pro-Europeans.

Agatino Grillo: Thank you very much for your time professor Marchetti.

Raffaele Marchetti: Thank you


Related posts on MOOC




LUISS University launches its first MOOC, Massive Open Online Courses, on International Relations (February, 16th 2015)



LUISS – Libera Università Internazionale degli Studi Sociali Guido Carli, or the Guido Carli Free International University for Social Studies – is an independent Italian university.
LUISS offers an innovative educational approach at its four Departments:

  1. Economics and Finance,
  2. Business and Management,
  3. Law,
  4. Political Science.

Its goal is not simply to convey knowledge but to “instill flexibility” in young people, giving them a sense of mastery over their future.


On February 16th, 2015 LUISS launched its first online course, in International Relations: a series of twelve weekly online lectures entitled From International Relations to Global Politics, with Professor Raffaele Marchetti, professor of International Relations at the Department of Political Science.
MOOCs, or Massive Open Online Courses, are a format for free distance learning that is widely used by major universities in order to reach a large number of users around the world.
“It is an innovation of recent years,” says Marchetti, “a revolution that is slowly but decisively taking hold, reshaping the concept of teaching at university.”
LUISS is one of the first Italian universities to move in this direction and the course in International Relations is one of the first online courses on that topic offered in the world.
In their passage from university classrooms to e-learning platforms, the course’s content and methods had to be radically rethought.
“The production phase required us to rewrite the course in the form of a script in order to be as concise and understandable as possible, by breaking down the lectures into a number of small units between five and ten minutes long.”
The recording of lectures was done at the Rai (Italian public television) studios in Milan so as to recreate all of the video environments and settings using computer graphics.
“It was essential to use not only words but images, videos and a whole range of media to encourage interaction with my virtual students and make the class more dialogue-based.”
Aside from attending virtual classes, students will study additional materials and carry out a series of peer-to-peer tutorials and reviews (“assessments that are less 'official' than those of the professor, but which have the value of including many points of view”), to prepare for a final exam which, if passed, will lead to a certificate and 3 ECTS university credits.
The online course From International Relations to Global Politics already counts several thousand enrolled students from around the world: “From Germany to India, from Spain to the United States, with a fairly high percentage of students even in cities like Kabul.”
The course will remain active for about three months, to then be relaunched in the fall, along with a new MOOC in Management with Professor Andrea Prencipe, which is already being prepared.


(1,13 minutes)



Job in the Time of Web – Interview with Massimo Chiriatti (November 24, 2014)

(This post is part of a serie on GDG Rome DevFest 2014, Italian translation available here)


Agatino Grillo: Hello Massimo. Would you like to introduce yourself?

Massimo Chiriatti: Hello everyone. I am a technologist, blogger and expert in the digital economy and blogger for “Il Sole 24 Ore” the most important Italian business newspaper. I have a degree in Political Science and a Masters in Information Systems Governance. My primary focus is on the areas of intersection between technology and the digital economy.
You can contact me via email, Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin.


Agatino Grillo: Why did you participate in Google DevFest in Rome last November 8, 2014?

Massimo Chiriatti: The friends of the Rome Google Developer Group invited me to participate as a speaker at the morning conference where various speakers related their experiences that the new technologies and innovations are bringing to their particulars fields.

Agatino Grillo: Your speech was entitled “Work games” (here available in pdf) a tribute to the famous eighties movie “War Games” (here on Wikipedia)" and at the same time a warning that there is increasing competition between man and machine also in the workplace.


Massimo Chiriatti: In my presentation I started by noting that more and more machines and advanced software are able to replace work activities previously managed only by humans. This began with the automation of repetitive jobs - typically: agriculture and manufacturing assembly lines in the manufacturing sector – and then changed the computerization of work with high information content: airplane ticket sales and check-ins, virtualized stores such Amazon, online banks and insurance services. The immediate future is represented by machines with predictive capabilities based on the storage of so called big-data that thanks to “abductive” logic software will be capable of making diagnose based on symptoms, for example. My provocative conclusions are that it is not convenient any more to compete with machines: rather we have to work with them to increase and multiply output and share them more equally among humanity.

Agatino Grillo: What does it mean?

Massimo Chiriatti: Nowadays technological innovations are increasingly sophisticated and less expensive so companies obviously try to replace human labour wherever possible with the work of  machines; the only areas where this is not possible yet are those related to creative work and those where empathy with other human beings still plays a vital role. So to preserve jobs or to find one it is important to be innovative, to be able to communicate one’s own capabilities, to be able to work in teams and online in communities. In other words: the middle class is destined to disappear due to this new social, economic and cultural system that is in continuous change and does not require unskilled workers but specialized talents. The Network offers us the possibility to be more visible and rapidly engaged by companies in search of our abilities. But be careful: the web allows everyone to show off their abilities thus exacerbates the competition.

Agatino Grillo: So?

Massimo Chiriatti: Before, anyone looking for work had to review the ads in newspaper or on the Web, now it is an algorithm that searches for the keywords. It is not the same thing. For years we put our CV online so that we are now in a data matrix. So when a job is matched with an application, we will be found and this will be announced by a message on our Smartphone

Agatino Grillo: What about the risk of excessive professional individualism? Is Italy ready for these challenges? Does Italy now being increasingly marginalized by big corporations?  

Massimo Chiriatti: It must be clear that the world changes despite our fears. The facts are these: large enterprises are increasing number, they are decentralizing e and have a shorter life. From 1988 to 2007 they have doubled, we have gone from 25 million to 50 million companies worldwide. These are also the benefits of globalization, which are often overlooked, because often new jobs are not created in our territory. The key drivers of this trend are the falling costs of both the transport of goods and information, both processing and storage. In other words: money has always been moved where it will yield maximum profit and today it moves where there are the best minds, not where labor costs less or in a defined area. We have mistakenly still the idea that companies are very old but it is not so: the biggest enterprises are born about ten years ago; at this rate try to imagine what - and especially who - will be starting up companies in the next decade. Now capital - and technology – find opportunities in start-ups and little companies even created by a single talented person.

Agatino Grillo: Thanks Massimo

Massimo Chiriatti: Thank you all

Slides of Massimo at Rome Google DevFest 2014

  • Massimo Chiriatti, “Work Games”, Google DevFest 2014, Roma , 8 novembre 2014 (pdf, 14 slide, 790 K)


How to contact Massimo Chiriatti

Connected posts

Let's build an immersive storytelling - Interview with Serena Zonca (November 12th, 2014)

(This post is part of a serie on GDG Rome DevFest 2014, Italian translation available here)

Agatino Grillo: Hi, Serena. Do you want to introduce yourself quickly?

Serena Zonca: Hello everyone. My name is Serena Zonca. I was born in Bergamo, Italy, on 1967. A degree in Foreign Languages and Literature, journalist. My job is on paper and digital publishing. I am founder of www.autopubblicarsi.it  a web site dedicated to new forms of publishing, and in particular to self-publishing. I like to experiment and I think ebooks are the starting point of the new publishing universe. More information about me can be found on my blog. Obviously I can be contacted via Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter  or directly through my website.


Agatino Grillo: What were you doing at Google DevFest Rome last November 8, 2014 among programmers, engineers and various nerds?

Serena Zonca: Rome Google Developer Group asked me for a contribution to the general conference of the morning on how new technologies are transforming the way people work and so I gave a speech on the subject of virtual reality and the “virtual storytelling”.

Agatino Grillo:  Let’s begin with virtual reality. For many years VR has promised to revolutionize our lives and our way of interacting with digital universes but actually isn’t it is a big disappointment? Are there significant results yet or not?

Serena Zonca: VR has moved a long way since it debuted. As I said in my speech at Google conference, I experienced for the first time virtual reality in 1992 in an event titled “Virtual Workshops” organized by the Triennale in Milan. I had to wear a helmet and a huge belt, connected by a bunch of cables to a computer which at the time seemed monstrous and today would evoke tenderness to tell the truth. I was ashamed not just at the idea of winding myself in that way, also because a small crowd laughed watching the volunteers so masked. But, once connected, I found myself in a new virtual universe: a white room, bare, some little airplanes were suspended in the air, a handful of polygons. The pixels were as big as pancakes and the frame rate of 4-5 fps. But ... I was there. The room existed, it was true! Since then I am always interested in virtual reality.

Agatino Grillo: Can you explain what “virtual storytelling” is?

Serena Zonca: Telling stories is part of the nature of human beings and therefore storytelling is a proven and powerful mechanism to capture attention, communicate and generate emotions, as advertising well knows! Despite being an anthropological constant, even the narrative evolved over time. It is passed from oral form of primordial stories to writing form taking the forms of theater, novel, screenplay film and television, the track of a video game. It has been constantly adapting  to the technical means from time to time available.
The challenge of “virtual storytelling” is to merge the narrative with current technology, including virtual reality, to create a new narrative means that you will no longer receive passively as the current books or movies, but in an interactive way: the stories will not be limited as now by a beginning and an end but propose multiple junctions and endings. To realize this “virtual storytelling” writers would work with software developers, digital graphics, 3D modelers ...

Agatino Grillo: What is the connection between “virtual storytelling” and virtual reality?

Serena Zonca: The connection is the immersion, which is another constant of the cultural history. Human beings have always tried to recreate the illusion of worlds and be part of them, to be surrounded by 360 °. The earliest examples date back to classical antiquity: I refer to the frescoes of the Villa of Livia at Prima Porta, in Rome, the trompe l'oeil of the Room of the Villa Farnesina in Rome and ever so many other examples up to the Cinerama and Sensorama in sixties of 1900.
Thus we come to 1992 mentioned earlier. Virtual reality promised an immersive revolution which hasn’t been realized yet. The computers were too slow; the display, the position detectors, the gloves too expensive and cumbersome. The princely progress  of VR has suffered a setback before that the apocalyptic predictions of detractors had time to occur.
Today, however, the context returns to appear favorable. On one hand we assist to the advancement of technology and on the other hand the user interfaces are today more friendly and people easily deal with computers and the network.
Today a VR platform is available and it costs more or less one thousand of euros:Oculus Rift, Microsoft Kinect and Virtuix Omni. It permits everyone to enter into an artificial world moving and interacting naturally with its components.


Agatino Grillo: How do you think the publishing industry will evolve in the coming years? Many fear that new technologies can wipe out the world we know now, and have justified fears. In 10 years will there still books? Or will they die out as vinyl records did?

Serena Zonca: The world does not stop for our fears. The real challenge is managing this change not to oppose it. I'm sure that paper books will continue to exist for decades. What we need to work is to build new languages and new tools that allow us to exploit the opportunities that technology offers us today and to meet the needs of a new audience. For this I was very pleased to attend the Google meeting and to confront with Google engineers who design digital tools essential to the cultural development of mankind.


Agatino Grillo: Is there any specific project you're working at on this front?

Serena Zonca: Just at Google Rome DevFest we launched the proposal to create a true “story immersive” ebook thanks to the power and wealth of the community that this type of event collects. Another goal would be to develop new tools to bring the authors to immersivity  and give them major autonomy in experimenting new languages. Immersive storytelling requires, I think, sharing cultural and technological experiences.

Agatino Grillo: Thanks Serena

Serena Zonca: Thank you all.

Slides of the presentation

  • Serena Zonca, “Virtual Storytelling”, Google DevFest 2014, Roma , 8 novembre 2014

How contact Serena Zonca

Connected posts

Google DevFest Rome 2014 (University Roma TRE, November 8, 2014)

(This post is part of a serie on GDG Rome DevFest 2014, Italian translation available here)


  • photos & images taken by Google+ and Twitter

On November 8, 2014 I participated to the Developer Fest hosted by the Department of Engineering at the University Roma TRE and organized by Rome Google Developer Group (GDG).
I would like to get an idea of what was cooking in the Big G the “best company in the world” according to Fortune 2014 and a “Great Place to Work” as many worldwide job classifications.
I only attended the conference in the morning which was more “philosophical” than technological and not the “code-labs” scheduled in the afternoon which proposed practical sessions focused on the various development environments and solutions offered by Google.
Entering the conference-room I expected a formal context (read: boring!) as usual in these slide-centered meetings but - surprise ! –instead it was a sort of mega cheerful and improvised assembly unlacking funny incidents (Murphy's Law!): a microphone that did not work, fire alarm siren that sounded at inopportune moments, and so on.
Here are my impressions and notes!


The agenda

The program, strict and multicolored as the Google homepage, simply recited:

     9:30 Welcome - Paul Merialdo and Antonella Blasetti
     10:00 Serena Zonca - Virtual Storytelling
     10:45 Massimo Chiriatti - Work Games
     11:30 Darius Arya - Ancient (and Modern) Rome live
     12:15 Sergio Paolini - The Web and neurosurgery
     13:00 The Lab and the Group's activities
     14:30 The Lab
     17:00: Treasure Hunt

Paolo Merialdo and Antonella Blasetti: get the party started!


The conference began with Paolo, professor at the University Roma TRE and starter-up, who gave the welcome to all present and Antonella (the “boss” of the event), which clarified the spirit of the conference: the Google DevFest is not a formal lecture-meeting but an interactive party where people meet to exchange experiences, strengthen motivation and plan joint activities to do together.

“We are not here just to talk about new technologies” underlied Antonella “but primarily to share information, to understand how the world changes around us and imagine together how we can facilitate this change thanks to the tools provided by Google”.
“To accomplish this” continued Antonella “we begin with three different speakers linked by two elements in common:

  • the passion and excellence in their own professional activity,
  • the need to adopt innovative technologies to do better quality-work”.

Serena Zonca: Virtual Storytelling


The first speaker was Serena, editor, journalist, editor and founder of www.autopubblicarsi.it .
She conducted an elegant and passionate presentation on virtual reality (VR) and in conclusion proposed to engage all of us in a collective project for the realization of an “immersive” electronic book that could allow the reader to enjoy and co-participate to the narrative using, for example, a VR platform already available and chipper: Oculus, Kinect and date-glove.

Massimo Chiriatti: Work Games


Massimo is a technologist, blogger and contributor for “Il Sole 24 Ore” the most important Italian business newspaper.
He gave a ironic and nice presentation (here in pdf, 14 slides, 790 K) on the real “world of work”  illustrating risks & opportunities arising from new technologies.
According to Massimo we need to abandon the idea of working all our work-life with a single employer: the average life of the big US companies is decreasing while simultaneously human life expectancy, also working, is increasing.
The present (and the future) of work requires adopting a nomadic attitude that is the capability of rapidly moving between industries keeping in mind that the competition between those who aspire to be hired is based both on the specialization of his own skills and on his ability to “communicate” and sell his expertise especially through the new digital media.

Darius Arya: let’s develop immersive multimedia experiences about history


Darius is a (multi-platform) archaeologist, TV documentarian and social media influencer.
His talk focused on how to tell Rome’s history through social and digital media like YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and so on.
He presented a couple of videos: “Ancient Rome Live” (Youtube) and “Save Rome: Preserving the Eternal City in the 21st Century” (YouTube), to explain the idea that we can better preserve our common history and heritage through new media outlets.
According to Darius YouTube offers a great venue combined with other learning platforms and applications.

Sergio Paolini: the Web and neurosurgery


Sergio, who is a neurosurgeon, gave a brilliant presentation on how the web has radically altered the field of surgery in the last 10 years both in the doctor-patient interaction and for training and also the clinical practice of doctors.
Sergio also highlighted the limits and delays of Italy in this field especially as concerns the public administration.
According to Sergio new technologies can play a key role in this field: the entry of the Internet in the operating room is producing significant improvements in medical practice by sharing information between operators; further progress can be expected thanks to the so-called wearable computing like Google Glass.



The first part of GDG Rome DevFest 2014 ended with some quick conclusions by Antonella Blasetti:

  • we are here to establish a real community where everyone can contribute to;
  • this is a new world so we have to think in a new way: technology solutions must be built “from below” and realized by joint actions;
  • often the “users” of the new technologies are ahead in terms of knowledge compared to the technicians as demonstrated by the present speakers;
  • different skills enrich the solutions.

Concluding, Antonella proposed to work on the projects launched during the speeches: virtual storytelling, integrated communication, web-enriched cultural heritage; the idea is to merge all of these exciting proposals to realize for example a new rich experience web site following the model that Google already produced for the city of Marseille.

Rome DevFest 2014 code-labs


Connected posts

AngularJS and the future of web programming: a talk with Vittorio Conte (February, 4th 2015)


(This post is part of a serie on GDG Rome DevFest 2014)

Agatino Grillo: Hi Vittorio. Could you introduce yourself?

Vittorio Conte: I am a software developer at Engineering Ingegneria Informatica SPA a multinational company leader in Italy in software and IT services. I live in Rome and I love travels/girlfriend/family/dogs.

Agatino Grillo: What is AngularJS?

Vittorio Conte: AngularJS is a JavaScript framework, designed to simplify the web developer’s experience. It provides a very structured approach and several feature to easily and quickly develop web sites and applications.
Created by Google developers, today is an open source project powered by Google and with hundreds of open source contributors around the world.

Agatino Grillo: The web programming scene is every day more crowded: why Google proposed another framework?

Vittorio Conte: There are a lot of alternative but most of these frameworks use an imperative approach for DOM manipulation. Through their usage the code maintenance and organization is not so simple. AngularJS, instead, is based on MVC pattern and gives you a mental model for “where to put what”. It’s provides a declarative approach to extend the HTML functionalities, improving code reusability and maintenance.
Developing a single-page application is, than, fast and easy.

Agatino Grillo: What is a single-page application?

Vittorio Conte: A single-page application (SPA), is a web application or web site that fits on a single web page with the goal of providing a more fluid user experience akin to a desktop application. In a SPA, either all necessary code – HTML, JavaScript, and CSS – is retrieved with a single page load or the appropriate resources are dynamically loaded and added to the page as necessary, usually in response to user actions. The page does not reload at any point in the process, nor does control transfer to another page, although modern web technologies (such as those included in HTML5) can provide the perception and navigability of separate logical pages in the application.

Agatino Grillo: What about data binding?

Vittorio Conte: In traditional web frameworks the controller combines data from models and mashes templates to deliver a view to the user. This combination reflect the state of the model at the time of the view rendering.
AngularJS takes a different approach. Instead of merging data into a template and replacing a DOM element, AngularJS creates live templates as a view. Individual components of the views are dynamically interpolated live. This feature is one of the most important in AngularJS and allows us to write less JavaScript Code.


Agatino Grillo: At Rome Google Developer Group (GDG) Fest on 8th November 2014 your code-lab was dedicated to getting started with AngularjJS. What did you propose?

Vittorio Conte: GDG DevFest’s codelabs are hands-on lab sessions to allow attendees to learn Google technologies by practical examples from experts sharing their knowledge and passion. You can find slides and code of my AngularJS here. I proposed a rapid overview of AngulaJS features and how you can have a simple Angular apps in minutes thanks to its features like 2-way binding, directives, dependency injection, etcetera. I would thank my friend Alessandro Relati who get the codelab with me.

Agatino Grillo: Google already announced AngularJS 2.0 release?

Vittorio Conte: The next version of AngularJS is currently in a design and prototype phase. As per Google, AngularJS 2.0 will focus on mobile apps but desktop architecture will be supported too.

Agatino Grillo: Thanks Vittorio

Vittorio Conte: Thanks to you


How to contact Vittorio Conte

Slides and code


Connected posts

Pierluigi Marciano: state of Drupal 8 and Italian code sprint 2015 (January, 26th 2015)

(This post is part of a serie on Drupal 8 code sprint 2015)


Italian Drupal8 codesprint was hosted by Wellnet, a Drupal-oriented firm. A conversation with Pierluigi Marciano CEO of Wellnet and drupalist

Agatino Grillo: Hello Pierluigi. Can you introduce yourself and Wellnet?

Pierluigi Marciano: I am founder and managing director at Wellnet  an Italian ICT solutions provider established in 2005 and serving Milan and Rome area. I was born in Naples where I gained a BA in Economics with specialization in Management of service industries. I am passionate about web, open source, process optimization and innovative human resources management. In my free time I love travelling, cooking, old Vespas and jazz music.

Agatino Grillo: What about Wellnet?

Pierluigi Marciano: Wellnet is an ICT consulting company that since 2005 has been providing expertise to companies and institutions aimed at the development of web applications and digital strategy. We have been working with Drupal since 2006 and we use this platform as a Content Management Framework that help us to build customized features and layouts. We supply Drupal administration and development training to companies and institutions and we like to organize, participate and contribute to Open Source movement, research and events. We also have a J2EE development Department specialized in Business Intelligence and Process Engineering for the financial market. Wellnet is an Acquia partner and Google partner too.

Agatino Grillo: Why did you choose Drupal as your Content Management Framework?

Pierluigi Marciano: Drupal is the leading open source content management system for developing sophisticated, flexible and robust websites, social media networks and applications. Drupal is a mature and reliable product with a huge user base and is used by a lot of organizations like ONU, Google, Yahoo, AOL, Sony, MTV, Nike, Amnesty International, Greenpeace, FedEx, and thousands others. Drupal is designed for rapid deployment and enables you to work in a true “Web 2.0” style in which core features and functionality can be rapidly deployed to market. Last but not least Drupal is Open Source with a large community estimated in more than 1 million members and 32.000 developers over the world.


Agatino Grillo: On 17th January 2015 Wellnet hosted Italian Drupal code sprint. What is a code sprint?

Pierluigi Marciano: A code sprint is a meeting of Drupal developers and users to help get Drupal 8 released by patching code and resolve public issues on Drupal source. Sprint is also a key step in Drupal-community building by pairing both new and experienced contributors  together for mentorship. Although a sprint is not a learning-event however it is perfect for tackling programming issues and improve Drupal know-how: during the Sprint, people work together, have one-off discussions, break out into groups, comment on issues or IRC chats. Attending to sprint, Community can contribute to advance Drupal improvement by collaboration and contribution.


(click to enlarge)

Agatino Grillo: What is the state of Drupal?

Pierluigi Marciano: First of all Drupal in not just a Content Management System (CMS); it is a framework for web content management with an embedded development platform. So you can use Drupal no simply as a tool for creating web pages but also as a platform to support the digital strategy of your company or agency.

Agatino Grillo: In which sense?

Pierluigi Marciano: Using Drupal you can easy express your digital business by creating your web and mobile presence. You can focus on your business ideas and contents and leave to Drupal how to realize them in a rapid, at state-of-art and economic way. Drupl 8 new features have been realized to be enterprise-oriented: native web service support, much improved multilingual support, configuration management system, streamlined content editing, in-place editing, responsive design, HTML5 support, a built-in WYSIWYG editor and more … The list of improvements is long but above all the new Drupal version is going on a Symfony based architecture, the is the biggest new!


Agatino Grillo: When will Drupal 8 release?

Pierluigi Marciano: There is no Drupal 8 official release date yet. As you can see on official release cycle for Drupal8 page on October 1, 2014 first Drupal 8 beta was released. Today the current beta version is the fifth released on January 28, 2015.
The first Drupal 8 release candidate (RC) will be available when once the number of critical bugs and tasks will be reduced to zero. Maintainers will also evaluate the major bugs and tasks before creating the first release candidate.

Agatino Grillo: Last question. How is the community Drupal scene in Italy compared European or American ones?

Pierluigi Marciano: Italian Drupal community is still one step behind other countries. I feel this gap might come from the limited number of Italian Drupal certified-companies and the few number of Drupal events and meetups hosted in Italy but I hope Italian Drupal community will grow rapidly in the next months. We do our part organizing every year the DrupalDay.

Agatino Grillo: Thanks Pierluigi

Pierluigi Marciano: Thanks to you


How to contact Pierluigi Marciano


How to contact WellNet



Rome GDGFest 2014: how replicate classic arcade “Space Invaders” in Unity3d, by Vincenzo Favara (12th January 2015)

(This post is part of a serie on GDG Rome DevFest 2014)


(Claudio d’Angelis and Giovanni Laquidara)

Agatino Grillo: Hi Vincenzo. Can you introduce yourself?

Vincenzo Favara: Analyst developer, I’m a true computer geek with an open mind. I compose poems for my pleasure and that of my friends. I’m very talkative, always learning about new technologies and new ways of thinking. Member of Google Developers Group - Lazio/Abruzzo (GDG Lab).

Agatino Grillo: Motto?

Vincenzo Favara: “The impossible is the first step towards possible”

Agatino Grillo: You get a talk at Rome Google Developer Group (GDG) Fest on 8th November 2014 in a code-lab dedicated to Unity3d. What about it?

Vincenzo Favara: Unity3d is a game development ecosystem: a powerful rendering engine fully integrated with a complete set of intuitive tools and rapid workflows to create interactive 3D and 2D content. It includes a rendering and physics engine, a scripting interface to program interactive content, a content exporter for many platforms (desktop, web, mobile) and a growing knowledge sharing community.


Agatino Grillo: Why a codelab about Unity3d in a Google Developer Group Fest?  Unity3d doesn’t belong to Google universe …

Vincenzo Favara: Google Developer Groups are a major initiative for Google but each GDG is an independent group so we can contaminate Big G technologies with other topics in our conferences. But of course you can using Unity3d to develop a game for Android. Unity3D has devoted more time to prepare and to develop apps on the Android platform.

Agatino Grillo: What topics did you talk about in your codelab?

Vincenzo Favara: The goal of my codelab was to teach how quickly implement a 2D game in Unit3d showing how replicate classic arcade “Space Invaders”, just a simple example for beginners. Slides are available here, code in GitHub.


Agatino Grillo: Advantages of using Unity3d in game development?

Vincenzo Favara: The main advantage is that Unity3d offers a rich, fully integrated development engine for the creation of interactive 2D and 3D content. The second point is that using Unity3d you can publish your game on several different platforms programming in Java Script, C # or Boo. Finally Unity3d has a large asset store where you can buy scripts, tools and textures to use in the game.

Agatino Grillo: Computer games are rapidly evolving in their sophistication and it is now possible use their potential to develop inexpensive, immersive and realistic media experiences. What is your opinion on this matter?

Vincenzo Favara: Video games are a primary component of digital interactive media industry and a form of digital art. I believe video games are an exciting opportunity and instrument to realize innovative experiences of immersive and interactive media. Recently Unity3d announced a full free integration for Oculus  a virtual reality platform. You can use Unity 4.6 and the Oculus integration package to deploy any sort of virtual reality content imaginable to the Oculus Rift, a VR head-mounted display.

Agatino Grillo: Thanks Vincenzo

Vincenzo Favara: Thanks to you

How to contact Vincenzo Favara

Codelab: code and slides


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The Dart side of web development: a conversation with Claudio d’Angelis and Giovanni Laquidara (11th January 2015)

(This post is part of a serie on GDG Rome DevFest 2014)


(Claudio d’Angelis and Giovanni Laquidara)

Everything you always wanted to know about Dart but were afraid to ask

Agatino Grillo: Hi Claudio, hi Giovanni. Could you introduce yourselves?

Claudio d’Angelis: I am a web and software developer located in Fondi (near Rome), working in IT as a configuration manager and programmer, experienced in digitization and document management systems, UNIX administration, modern web development. When not working, I like to dedicate to Dart language, trying to contribute to its spread: I'm building an italian support community, writing articles and tutorials at Engeene.it, presenting episodes for the Google Developers Live program and speaking at conferences.

Giovanni Laquidara: I am a Software Engineer working in Air Traffic Control and Command & Control System development field. Active member in GDG-Rome and CodeInvaders Communities having fun developing Android and Web Application. Startupper in love with new and life changing technologies. Android and Dart and Go enthusiast.

Agatino Grillo: You were speakers at the Google Developer Group (GDG) Fest on 8th November in Rome with a code-lab dedicated to web development using Dart language. What about it?

Claudio & Giovanni: In the code lab we developed, using Polymer-Dart, a showcase app of 700+ interesting monuments you can find in Rome! You can find the slide here on SlideShare or here in ppt and pdf format.


Agatino Grillo: What is Dart? Why another web programming language?

Claudio & Giovanni: Dart is an open-source Web programming language developed by Google designed to be easy to write development tools for, well-suited to modern app development, and capable of high-performance implementations. Dart is a class-based, single inheritance, object-oriented language with C-style syntax. It supports interfaces, abstract classes, reified generics, and optional typing. Most importantly, Dart compiles to JavaScript so that your Dart apps can run all over the web.

Agatino Grillo:  Does the Web really need another language?

Claudio & Giovanni: Dart is more than a language. The project is also building an Editor, core libraries, a static analyzer, and even a virtual machine. The Dart VM can run Dart code directly on the command line for server-side apps.  Nowadays web developers’ expectations require a platform familiar to programmers of different backgrounds, and that is structured to enable the larger, more complex apps that users are demanding. So Dart brings fresh ideas to web programming, and this innovation help push the web forward for app developers and users.

Agatino Grillo: Could you better explain Dart’s innovations?

Claudio & Giovanni: Google wants web apps to load quickly, run smoothly, and present engaging and fun experiences to users. At the same time Google wants developers of all backgrounds to be able to build great experiences for the browser.
Modern HTML5-compliant browsers offer a lot of new features in tablets and phones field also.
Despite these improvements in the web platform, the developer experience hasn’t improved as much as we’d like. It should be easier to build larger, more complex web apps. It’s taken far too long for productive tools to emerge, and they still don’t match the capabilities offered by other developer platforms. You shouldn’t have to be intimately familiar with web programming to start building great apps for the modern web.
So Dart improves developers activities in two main ways:

  1. better performance because it is a structured language designed for optimize coding and based on a new Virtual Machine enabling faster startup,
  2. better productivity because its support for libraries and packages helps you work with other developers and easily reuse code from other projects.

Agatino Grillo: What about the app developed in your code-lab?

Claudio & Giovanni: We realized a web app you can test live here  which exposes Rome’s monuments data come from the City of Rome’s OpenData hub: dati.comune.roma.it. Source code is available on Github . Slides here on SlideShare or here in ppt and pdf format.

Agatino Grillo: Your app uses Polymer-Dart too. What is Polymer?

Claudio & Giovanni: Polymer is a library for creating Web Components, which are a set of W3C standards and upcoming browser APIs for defining your own custom HTML elements. Polymer-Dart  is a Dart port of Polymer to build structured, encapsulated, client-side web apps with Dart and web components.

Agatino Grillo: Thanks Claudio, thanks Giovanni.

Claudio & Giovanni: Thanks to you

Codelab: code, demo and slides

How to contact Claudio d’Angelis

How to contact Giovanni Laquidara


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Towards Web 3.0, an interview with Roberto Navigli and Daniele Vannella (9th January 2014)

(This post is part of a serie on GDG Rome DevFest 2014)


(Roberto Navigli and Daniele Vannella)

Agatino Grillo: Hi Roberto, hi Daniele. Could you introduce yourselves?

Roberto Navigli: I am a professor in the Department of Computer Science at the Sapienza University of Rome. Since I was a child, I have always been very interested in the complexity of language and this is the reason why, as a computer science student, I was quickly fascinated by research in the field of Natural Language Processing and decided to start a Ph.D. on the topic of word sense disambiguation. In 2010 I was the first Italian winner of a prestigious ERC Starting Grant in Computer Science and Informatics (I was only 32 years old with an amazing 1.3 million-euro contract!). Now I manage a group of 10 Ph.D. students doing research in many areas of Natural Language Processing, including Word Sense Disambiguation, Knowledge Acquisition, Ontology Learning, Semantic Information Retrieval, the Semantic Web and its applications. You can find more information on me at http://wwwusers.di.uniroma1.it/~navigli

Daniele Vannella: I am a Ph.D. student at Department of Computer Science at “La Sapienza” University of Rome under the supervision of prof. Navigli. I have a B.Sc. degree and an MSc in Computer Science both from “La Sapienza”. My research interests are in the areas of Word Sense Induction and Lexical Substitution . My curriculum is available at

Agatino Grillo: You were a speakers at the Google Developer Group (GDG) Fest on 8th November in Rome in a code-lab titled “Towards Web 3.0 with BabelNet e Babelfy”. What is the Web 3.0?

Roberto & Daniele: The Web 3.0 is sometimes used as a synonym for “Semantic Web” which, using the definition of Tim Berners-Lee, is a “common framework” to allows data to be shared and reused across application, enterprise, and community boundaries. More simply, we can say, using the Wikipedia’s definition that the Semantic Web aims at converting the current Web, dominated by unstructured and semi-structured documents, into a “web of data”, where data are interoperable and semantically connected.


(source: Wikipedia, click to enlarge)

Agatino Grillo: What is BabelNet?

Roberto & Daniele: A key recent development in the Semantic Web area is the Linguistic Linked Open Data cloud. However, this cloud does not contain many rich resources and, with the exception of DBpedia, it is mostly monolingual. To address this and many other issues in semantics, we have introduced BabelNet, a very large multilingual semantic network that was created by automatically integrating existing knowledge resources, including machine-readable dictionaries such as WordNet, OmegaWiki and Wiktionary, and encyclopedic knowledge from Wikipedia and Wikidata.

Agatino Grillo: Could you explain BabelNet in more detail?

Roberto & Daniele: BabelNet is a sort of multilingual encyclopedic dictionary which connects concepts and named entities in a very large network of semantic relations, made up of more than 13 million entries, called Babel synsets. Each Babel synset represents a given meaning and contains all the synonyms which express that meaning in a range of different languages.
BabelNet provides, for example, lexical knowledge about the concept apple as a fruit, with its part of speech, its definitions and its set of synonyms in multiple languages, as well as encyclopedic knowledge about, among other entities, the Apple Inc. company, along with definitions in multiple languages, connections to other concepts and entities, etc.
Thanks to the semantic relations it is furthermore possible to learn that apple is an edible fruit (or a fruit comestible, a frutta, an essbare Früchte) and that Apple Inc. is related to Mac and Mountain View California. While 6 languages were covered in version 1.0, BabelNet 3.0 makes giant strides in this respect and covers the amazing number of 271 languages!


Agatino Grillo: Why a “multilingual” approach?

Roberto & Daniele: The tremendous growth in the amount of multilingual text on the Web has significantly increased the need for multilingual resources in many research areas. Multilingual lexical knowledge is indispensable for implementing the next step towards the multilingual Semantic Web, i.e. a Web in which multilinguality is not a barrier, but an opportunity for sharing and spreading information across cultures and languages. As a result BabelNet provides a unified multilingual repository of knowledge for solving issues in many areas such as computer-assisted translation, localization, multilingual semantic processing of text, cross-lingual information retrieval, etc.

Agatino Grillo: And Babelfy?

Roberto: Having developed the largest multilingual knowledge repository, the first natural step was to use it to address the language ambiguity issue. With Andrea Moro, another Ph.D. student in my research group, we therefore conceived and developed Babelfy, a unified approach to word sense disambiguation and entity linking in arbitrary languages, with performance on both tasks on a par with, or surpassing, those of task-specific state-of-the-art supervised systems.

Agatino Grillo: Recently you announced BabelNet 3.0, covering 271 languages. What is new?

Roberto: BabelNet 3.0 is the result of the automatic integration of six different resources:

  • WordNet 3.0, a popular computational lexicon of English,
  • The Open Multilingual WordNet, a collection of wordnets available in different languages,
  • Wikipedia, the largest collaborative multilingual Web encyclopedia,
  • OmegaWiki, a large collaborative multilingual dictionary,
  • Wiktionary, a collaborative project to produce a free-content multilingual dictionary,
  • Wikidata, a free knowledge base that can be read and edited by humans and machines alike.

Additionally, it contains translations obtained from sense-annotated sentences. BabelNet is fully integrated with our Babelfy multilingual disambiguation and entity linking system as well as the Wikipedia Bitaxonomy, a state-of-the-art taxonomy of Wikipedia pages aligned to a taxonomy of Wikipedia categories. Don't forget to join our facebook group at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/babelnet/

Agatino Grillo: Thanks Roberto, thanks Daniele.

Roberto & Daniele: Thanks to you!


  • R. Navigli and S. Ponzetto. BabelNet: The Automatic Construction, Evaluation and Application of a Wide-Coverage Multilingual Semantic Network. Artificial Intelligence, 193, Elsevier, 2012, pp. 217-250. http://babelnet.org
  • A. Moro, A. Raganato, R. Navigli. Entity Linking meets Word Sense Disambiguation: a Unified Approach. Transactions of the Association for Computational Linguistics (TACL), 2, pp. 231-244, 2014. http://babelfy.org


  • Daniele Vannella - Linguistic Computing Laboratory (LCL) @ Università la Sapienza di Roma, BabelNet 2.0: un dizionario enciclopedico multilingue in formato elettronico  (video, 30.9) 20th November 2013
  • Roberto Navigli (University of Rome): Babelfying the Multilingual Web. (video)  23rd June 2014


Roberto Navigli

Daniele Vannella

●    https://it-it.facebook.com/daniele.vannella
●    https://sites.google.com/a/di.uniroma1.it/danielevannella/
●    https://www.linkedin.com/pub/daniele-vannella/99/842/854

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