For the past few months we worked in a new collective DATACTIVE publication: Data for the Social Good: Toward a data-activist research agenda. It will be one of the chapters in the forthcoming Good Data book, edited by Angela Daly, Kate Devitt and Monique Mann, and published by the Institute of Network Cultures in Amsterdam within their “Theory on Demand” series.
Our text builds upon the Data for the Social Good two-day focused encounter we organised in November 2017 (read the report here). During the first day of that event last year we discussed with Charlotte Ryan, Lorenzo Pezanni, Jeff Deutsch and Nico Para about the ways in which research and activism intersect in projects which rely on data. On the second day, we were joined by a diverse group of researchers and activists for a workshop exploring what a data-activist agenda would look like (seriously, read the report here!).
In Data for the Social Good: Toward a data-activist research agenda, we took that conversation and expanded it two fronts. First, we grounded theoretically our take on what it means to be a (data) activist, which implied clarifying what data activism means in the first place, as well as briefly revising the origin and evolution of engaged research. Secondly, we reflected more deeply upon the ethics of collaborative investigations, paying particular attention to the power relations between the actors involved throughout the process.
The Good Data book will be launched in Amsterdam at 5pm of the 24th of January, at the cultural centre Spui25. It includes 20 different chapters exploring what good data practices are, from manifestos to smart city reflections (and nope, not a single reference to blockchain). Both the editors and DATACTIVE will be around to discuss more about how to use data for good rather than evil, so join us if you’re interested in knowing more (or getting the book)!
Stefania and Guillén will be present this week at EASST 2018: Meetings – Making Science, Technology and Society Together, in Lancaster, UK.
If you are around, drop by our panel “After data activism: reactions to civil society’s engagement with data” on Saturday morning (9:30) at the Elizabeth Livingston Lecture Theatre. We will be focusing on how data governance, data science and social technologies are co-producing asymmetries of power through five papers dealing with Data flows, data sharing, the scoring society, civil society and data practices, and resistance through data.
Apart from that, Stefania will also be presenting along Anita Chan a paper on “Data cultures from the Global South: decentering data universalism” and will participate in a panel organized by the European Research Council.
Come say hi!
As every two years, the Center for Research into Information, Surveillance and Privacy offers a summer school focused on Surveillance Studies. This time, it is the turn of the University of St. Andrews (yes, that one where Kate and Edward fell in love! *sarcastic wink*) to host, from Monday 18 to Friday 22 June.
The one-week course will feature sessions on the intersection between surveillance and religion, activism, privacy, Freedom of Information, and a two-day intensive research proposal competition. The activities are coordinated by Prof. Kirstie Ball.
EDIT: The team Guillen was a part of won the research proposal competition, getting awarded 2.5 million euros of fake funding for a project called: “New Lateral Surveillance in Naming and Shaming Culture: The Impact of Viral Media on Liberal Democracies“. You can check the slides here.
Next Wednesday, the artist and researcher Mimi Onuoha will be with us for another session of the DATACTIVE speaker series.
Mimi Onuoha is a Nigerian-American, Brooklyn-based artist and researcher whose work examines the implications of data collection and computational categorization. She uses code, writing, interventions, and objects to explore missing data and the ways in which people are abstracted, represented, and classified.
If you’re around Amsterdam and wish to attend, drop a line to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This year, the Netherlands Graduate Research School of Science, Technology and Modern Culture summer school focused on Ethnography, Digital Objects, and STS, under the guidance of Christine Hine. The yearly event takes place in the quiet former convent of Soeterbeeck, in Ravenstein, which is now a conference center of the Radboud Universiteit.
The goal of the Summer School was to reflect around how can researchers produce knowledge from digital objects, and what challenges does ‘The Digital’ imply for the methods of Social Sciences. The event consisted of a series of lectures by Christine Hine, who has developed extensive work on digital ethnography, and other STS scholars: Vlad Niculescu (Erasmus University Rotterdam), Nishant Shah (ArtEZ School of the Arts), Justus Uitermark (University of Amsterdam), Karin Wenz (Maastricht University), and Sally Wyatt (Maastricht University / Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences).
In addition to that, some of the attendees presented their own PhD research spanning a wide array of subjects, from period tracking apps, to mobility experiments, passing by digital patient records and The People’s Internet. I presented my work on Digital Shatter Zones: digital spaces in which public sector information and open data is made available without necessarily being accessible. You can see the slides here.
Krisis: Journal for Contemporary Philosophy
Special Issue on data activism, edited by Stefania Milan and Lonneke van der Velden
With the progressive datafication of many aspects of human life, people become increasingly aware of the critical role of information in modern societies. This awareness nurtures new socio-technical practices rooted in data and technology, which we subsume under the notion of ‘data activism’. Data activism can be understood as a contemporary evolution of earlier phenomena like tech activism, digital activism, and hacktivism. It represents yet another possible manifestation of activism in the information society—one that, however, explicitly engages with the new forms information and knowledge take today as well as their production, challenging dominant understandings of datafication. And because datafication is such a prominent feature in public life, data activism, as a mode of dealing with it, might progressively appeal to more diverse communities of concerned citizens, beyond the expert niche of previous incarnations of tech activist engagement. This shifting terrain represents an interesting test ground for contemporary philosophy and theory-building more in general.
This special issue of Krisis aims to present a wide range of philosophical and theoretical perspectives on grassroots engagement with datafication. With this publication, we bring into dialogue scholars and practitioners that critically explore the politics of data from the perspective of grassroots activism, the organized civil society, and then citizenry at large.
We invite articles that theoretically engage with:
• data and (democratic) agency
• encryption as an activist tactic
• alternative (data) infrastructures
• computational tactics in social movements
• the philosophies of tech-oriented movements
• epistemological questions surrounding data, data production, and data activism
• ethical questions surrounding datafication and data activism
• histories of activism in relation to concepts such as quantification and measurement
• data activism tactics and strategies
• related concepts such as hacktivism, information activism, tactical media, algorithmic activism, digital resistance seen in relation to datafication and data infrastructures
• critical approaches to data visualization
• algorithmic discrimination
• data ethics in activist practices
• ethics for the datafied society
• critical takes on datafication
• critical reflection on methods and research epistemologies for studying datafication and/or data activism
• and more!
To discuss your ideas for a contribution, please drop an email by March 1st to Lonneke@data-activism.net and email@example.com