By Stefania

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“Big Data from the South”: new article & Special Issue out

We are very proud to announce the publication of the Special Issue “Big Data from the South” in the journal Television & New Media. Edited by DATACTIVE PI Stefania Milan and Emiliano Treré (Data Justice Lab), it features six articles and a commentary:

* Stefania Milan and Emiliano Treré: ‘Big Data from the South(s): Beyond Data Universalism’ (Milan/Treré) (>> open access at https://doi.org/10.1177/1527476419837739)*
* Nick Couldry and Ulises A. Mejias: Data Colonialism: Rethinking Big Data’s Relation to the Contemporary Subject
* Paola Ricaurte: Data Epistemologies, The Coloniality of Power, and Resistance
* Payal Arora: Decolonizing Privacy Studies
* Monique Mann and Angela Daly: (Big) Data and the North-in-South: Australia’s Informational Imperialism and Digital Colonialism
* Jean-Marie Chenou and Carolina Cepeda-Másmela: #NiUnaMenos: Data Activism From the Global South
* María Soledad Segura and Silvio Waisbord: Between Data Capitalism and Data Citizenship (commentary)

You can explore the Special Issue at https://journals.sagepub.com/toc/tvna/current
The leading article, entitled “Big Data from the South: Beyond Data Universalism”, is open access at this page.

Abstract. This article introduces the tenets of a theory of datafication of and in the Souths. It calls for a de-Westernization of critical data studies, in view of promoting a reparation to the cognitive injustice that fails to recognize non-mainstream ways of knowing the world through data. It situates the “Big Data from the South” research agenda as an epistemological, ontological, and ethical program and outlines five conceptual operations to shape this agenda. First, it suggests moving past the “universalism” associated with our interpretations of datafication. Second, it advocates understanding the South as a composite and plural entity, beyond the geographical connotation (i.e., “global South”). Third, it postulates a critical engagement with the decolonial approach. Fourth, it argues for the need to bring agency to the core of our analyses. Finally, it suggests embracing the imaginaries of datafication emerging from the Souths, foregrounding empowering ways of thinking data from the margins.

To continue the conversation about Southern and resistant epistemologies of datafication (well beyond the ‘Global South’!), visit the webpage of the Big Data from the South Initiative [1], check out the multilingual blog (and consider to contribute to it!), and join the dedicated mailing-list.
If you have access problems, get in touch with us.

Cite as Milan, S., & Treré, E. (2019). Big Data from the South(s): Beyond Data Universalism. Television & New Media, 20(4), 319–335. https://doi.org/10.1177/1527476419837739

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Stefania at the Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft, Berlin

On April 9, Stefania was in Berlin to give a talk at the Magnus-Haus, the headquarters of the Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft (German Physical Society), as part of the Physik und Gesellschaft series.
The talk was entitled /Error 404: Social Life Not Found/ – How to bring politics back into the datafied society, and was moderated by Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Eberhardt.

Abstract
Datafication – or the process of rendering into data aspects of social life that have never been quantified before – has altered the way we experience ourselves and exercise our citizenship today. Blanket surveillance and privacy infringements, however, are making citizens grow aware of the critical role of information as the new fabric of social life. As the advent of datafication and the automation turn threaten social life as we know it, how can we re-invent citizenship? How can we bring progressive politics back, to inform, among others, technological development and public policies? In this talk I will reflect on how politics and citizen agency are re-designed in light of the challenges and possibilities of big data and machine learning.

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DATACTIVE at the International Journalism Festival in Perugia

On April 5-7, Stefania will attend the International Journalism Festival in Perugia. She will speak in the panel ‘Facing the challenges of a datafied society’, on Saturday at 5pm. She will join on stage Philip Di Salvo (Institute of Media and Journalism USI), Colin Porlezza (Department of Journalism City University, London), and Adrienne Russell (University of Washington).

Facing the challenges of a datafied society: how journalist, activists and hackers can make sense of datafication

The contemporary datafied society is hybrid in nature: information technology, policy makers, activists and participatory publics all converge in shaping today’s mediated landscape. Making sense and interpreting these elements comes with new challenges for journalists whose role it is to help citizens understand the mechanisms of today’s democracy and its potential abuses. The Snowden revelations and the Cambridge Analytica scandal, among others, have deeply impacted our understanding of the contemporary digital area, such as mass surveillance, the role of algorithms, and the perils of the data economy. These cases, among others, also exhibit some of the complex hybridization processes journalism is going through, both on a practical and on a cultural level. New players like hackers and activists entered the journalism field either through collaboration with journalists or by creating new tools, strategies and standards. In both cases they introduce new themes and debates into the news agenda. This panel, composed of academics and practitioners, will explore the role of journalism in shaping debates and issues about the datafied society and highlight some of the most successful examples of today’s hybrid journalism.

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DATACTIVE at the 5th Internet Freedom Festival

DATACTIVE, and Becky Kazansky (@pondswimmer) and Stefania Milan (@annliffey) in particular, is in Valencia on April 1-5 to take part in the 5th edition of the Internet Freedom Festival. In particular, Stefania will join a session entitled “The IFF in context: The transnational social movement for digital rights“, organised by Nathalie Marechal (Ranking Digital Rights) and Efrat Daskal (Northeaster University), injecting some history into the present digital rights struggles.

Come say hello!

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Stefania and Niels at ISA Toronto

Stefania and Niels will attend the annual convention of the International Studies Association (ISA), in Toronto March 26-29. Stefania will present a paper, co-authored with Nina Hall (SAIS, Jonhs Hopkins) touching upon the IR-related side the DATACTIVE project, focusing on contemporary transformations of global digital advocacy in light of digitalisation and datafication.

In March 26th, Stefania and Niels will also participate the workshop ‘Digital Democracy: Global Dimension’ at McMaster University in Hamilton, organised by Tony Porter and Netina Tan of the Digital Democracy Hub at McMaster.

On March 27th, Stefania will lecture in digital methods and tool development (including within our new ALEX project) at Glendon College (York University), in the “Advanced Research Methods” taught by Evan Light.

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hot off the press: Special Issue on ‘Internet Architecture & Human Rights’

Happy to announce the publication of a stellar special issue of the journal ‘Policy & Internet’, dedicated to ‘Internet Architecture & Human Rights’. The special issue, edited by DATACTIVE PI Stefania Milan with Monika Zalnieriute (Faculty of Law, UNSW Sydney, Australia), features articles by a number of key authors in the Internet governance field, such as Laura DeNardis and Samantha Brandshaw, Milton L. Mueller and Farzahen Badiei, Nicolas Suzor and colleagues, Ben Wagner, and our very own Niels ten Oever. Read it online!

Zalnieriute and Milan (2019). “Internet Architecture and Human Rights: Beyond the Human Rights Gap”, Policy & Internet, 11(1): 6-15, https://doi.org/10.1002/poi3.200

Internet architecture and infrastructure are generally not at the top of the concerns of end users, and the overlying logical arrangements of root services, domain names, and protocols remain largely invisible to its users. Recent developments, however—including massive user data leakages, hacks targeting social networking service providers, and behavioral micro‐targeting—have turned a spotlight on Internet governance defined broadly, and its relationship with civil liberties and human rights. The articles in this special issue examine the policymaking role of influential private intermediaries and private actors such as ICANN in enacting global governance via Internet architecture, exploring the implications of such a mode of governance for human rights. They consider: to what extent are human rights standards mediated and set via technical infrastructure, such as the DNS and platform policies, rather than by governmental structures? What are the implications of governance via Internet architecture for individual human rights? And what frameworks—be they legal, technological or policy‐related—are needed to address the contemporary privatization of human rights online, in order to ensure the effective protection of human rights in the digital age?

ten Oever (2019). “Productive Contestation, Civil Society, and Global Governance: Human Rights as a Boundary Object in ICANN”, Policy & Internet, 11(1): 37-60, https://doi.org/10.1002/poi3.172

Human rights have long been discussed in relation to global governance processes, but there has been disagreement about whether (and how) a consideration for human rights should be incorporated into the workings of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), one of the main bodies of Internet governance. Internet governance is generally regarded as a site of innovation in global governance; one in which civil society can, in theory, contribute equally with government and industry. This article uses the lens of boundary object theory to examine how civil society actors succeeded in inscribing human rights as a Core Value in ICANN’s bylaws. As a “boundary object” in the negotiations, the concept of human rights provided enough interpretive flexibility to translate to the social realities of the various stakeholder groups, including government and industry. This consensus‐building process was bound by the organizing structure of the boundary object (human rights), and its ability to accommodate the interests of the different parties. The presence of civil society at the negotiating table demanded a shift in strategy from the usual “outsider” tactics of issue framing and agenda setting, to a more complex and iterative process of “productive contestation,” a consensus‐building process fueled by the differences of experience and interests of parties, bound together by the organizing structure of the boundary object. This article describes how this process ultimately resulted in the successful adoption of human rights in ICANN’s bylaws.

Cite as Zalnieriute and Milan (eds.) (2019). Special issue ‘Internet Architecture & Human Rights’, Policy & Internet, 11(1)

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Stefania at the MilanoDesign PhD Festival (hint: thesis on data activism!)

On February 20-22, DATACTIVE PI Stefania Milan is in Milan, Italy, for the MilanoDesign PhD Festival at the Politecnico di Milano. In particular, she will sit in the PhD defences of Maria Briones de los Angeles and Camilo Ayala Garcia. On Friday afternoon, she will also deliver a talk as part of the “design pills” program. Check out the program of the event.

We are very excited that “Disclose to tell. A data design framework for alternative narratives” by Maria Briones de los Angeles features DATACTIVE as well. What’s more, this amazing dissertation contributes to understand data activism, in particular when it comes to data visualisation and its role in the creation of empowering narratives for social change. Visit to know more. And congrats to Maria Briones de los Angeles (@angelesbriones)!