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June 29-30: DATACTIVE final event

We are nearing the end of the ERC-funded DATACTIVE project and we have many accomplishments to celebrate!

For almost six years now, we have worked together to investigate the complex and multifaceted field of data activist imaginaries and practices. We have had a wonderful time bringing together academics, practitioners, hackers and artists from around the world. We have engaged in numerous interviews, focus groups, participant observation of activist events, and we have even developed our own open-source tools to support our research. Together, we have traced the evolution of a global network of data activists and tried to figure out how institutions are reacting to their mobilization. We have explored the various ways in which publics engage with surveillance regimes and how notions of risk articulate strategies to resist it. We have shed light on the workings of the algorithms that power big tech platforms and located how human rights considerations painstakingly make their way into the infrastructure of the internet. With the inception of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have also devoted our attention to the politics of counting in the first pandemic in a datafied society, the inherent forms of exclusion and the risks of techno-solutionism.

Throughout these six years, the ‘we’ of DATACTIVE has been neither static nor stable. DATACTIVE has been home to no less than 26 people in its core team, plus the many other research associates, interns, and collaborators who visited for period of time and enriched our work with their expertise and unique contributions.

Although the project is coming to an end, we are well aware that our work is not done. We will take our data-activist approach to research to other venues and groups, and continue asking critical questions wherever we will land.

But it is now time for thanks and celebrations! Please join us on Tuesday the 29th of June 2021 for the DATACTIVE closing event entitled DATA ACTIVISM FUTURES, to celebrate looking back and ponder about the future. We have our Principal Investigator Stefania Milan reflecting on five years of data activism, after which the PhD candidates will take central stage. Becky Kazansky will shed light on threat modelling within civil society and grassroots resistance to surveillance, Guillén Torres will present his work on institutional resistance to transparency efforts by citizens, and Niels ten Oever will take us through the politics of infrastructure. Guest speakers include Maxigas (University of Amsterdam), Fieke Jansen (Data Justice Lab, Cardiff University), Claudio (Algorithms Exposed), and Svitlana Matviyenko (Digital Democracies Institute). Davide Beraldo will engage in a discussion with artists Joana Moll, Manu Luksch, Viola van Alphen, Karla Zavala and Adriaan Odenzaal about how art can contribute to the data activism agenda by fostering critical data literacy

The DATACTIVE final event will be followed by a public roundtable discussion on ART AS DATA ACTIVISM scheduled on the next day, Wednesday the 30th of June 2021. Note that each event has its own separate registration process. Find more details below!

 

DAY 1: DATA ACTIVISM FUTURES
June 29th 13.00-17.30 CEST
The event will takes place online

Sign up HERE

13.00-13.30 5 Years pro-active & re-active data activism: What changed?
13.30-13.40 Website launch
13.40-14.00 Breakout sessions teasers featuring PhD projects
14.00-14.40 Breakout rooms: Extended PhD presentations + Q&A
Data activism as form of:
1. Institutional resistance (Guillen Torres)
2. Resistance to surveillance (Becky Kazansky)
3. Politics of infrastructure (Niels ten Oever)

BREAK

15.00-15.30 Art as data activism: A conversation (moderated by Davide Beraldo)
15.30-16.30 “Research Futures for data activism”: A fishbowl discussion with practitioners moderated by Niels ten Oever
16.30-17.00 Data activism futures: Closing remarks. Stefania Milan in conversation with Linnet Taylor (Tilburg University)
17.00 Online festive moment: keep your favorite drink at hand!

DATACTIVE speakers: Stefania Milan (Associate Professor of New Media and Digital Culture, University of Amsterdam), Guillen Torres (PhD at DATACTIVE, University of Amsterdam), Niels ten Oever (former PhD at DATACTIVE, now postdoctoral researcher at IN-SIGHT, University of Amsterdam), Becky Kazansky (PhD at DATACTIVE, University of Amsterdam).

Moderators: Lonneke van der Velden (DATACTIVE, Assistant Professor Global Digital Cultures at the University of Amsterdam), Davide Beraldo (Senior Lecturer and postdoctoral researcher at DATACTIVE, University of Amsterdam) & Niels ten Oever. Co-organiser: Jeroen de Vos (DATACTIVE Project Manager, University of Amsterdam).

Guest speakers include: Linnet Taylor (Global Data Justice, Tilburg University), Maxigas (People’s 5G Lab, University of Amsterdam), Fieke Jansen (DATA JUSTICE, Cardiff University), Claudio Agosti (Algorithms Exposed), Svitlana Matviyenko (digital democracies institute), Joana Moll (Barcelona/Berlin based artist and researcher, Universität Potsdam and Escola Elisava), Manu Luksch (Artist in Residence at The School of Law, Birkbeck, University of London), Karla Zavala & Adriaan Odenzaal (☕️ internet teapot l design & research studio), Viola van Alphen (Creative Director and Curator Manifestations@Dutch Design Week. Art, Tech, and Fun!).

 

DAY 2: ART AS DATA ACTIVISM
June 30th 17.00-18.30 CEST
The event is hosted by Spui25 and takes place online

Sign up HERE

Art as form of political engagement is a proven formula, but what about art as form of data activism? Can art help us better understand and question the politics of everyday data flows? In the current context of datafication -the turning of every aspect of our lives into data points for further processing — artistic practice offers diverse ways to foster public engagement with data. From the early examples of the Net.Art movement to more recent artistic interrogations of automated decision making systems, the speakers in this panel will offer different perspectives on the role of art in questioning the power asymmetries created as a result of the use of data by governments, corporations and platforms.

Speakers: Manu Luksch (Artist in Residence at The School of Law, Birkbeck, University of London) Karla Zavala & Adriaan Odenzaal (☕️ internet teapot l design & research studio), more speakers to be confirmed!

Moderator: Lonneke van der Velden (DATACTIVE and Assistant Professor Global Digital Cultures at the University of Amsterdam)

Organisers: DATACTIVE, a research project and a research collective exploring the politics of big data broadly defined.

BigBang Sprint at IETF110 Hackathon

When: March 1-3, 2021

The BigBang project will be working on improving its tool for mailinglist analysis at the IETF 110 Hackathon.

BigBang is an open source research project that studies collaboration and contention in digital infrastructure projects and governance institutions. We do this by combining data science techniques with qualitative methods. For example, with BigBang you can analyze participation, affiliation, gender, and networks in the IETF, ICANN, RIPE, IEEE, or the 3GPP.

We very much welcome both techncial and non-technical contributors! BigBang is built on the scientific Python stack, and we use Jupyter notebooks to make the analysis transparent and accessible.

To join the IETF 110 Hackathon, please register using the link from the Hackathon website. Registration is free!

We intend to work on (some of) the following issues during the hackathon:

– Integration and analysis of 3GPP and IEEE mailing lists
– Integration with the INDELab conversationkg tool
– Produce instructional videos
– Improve linking across datasets (such as the datatracker and mailing lists)
– Query/notebook design to support projects from research community
– Discussion of Star’s boundary object vs. Luhmann’s structural coupling
– The operationalization of _your_ research question!

The BigBang project will have a one-hour team meeting Friday February 26 – 9:00 ET / 14:00 GMT / 15:00 CET before the Hackathon which all are welcome to attend if they are curious about the project. You can join via this link: https://uva-live.zoom.us/s/6365963924

Please don’t hesitate to write Seb (sbenthall at gmail dot com) if you have any questions about the BigBang project or the IETF 110 sprint, or if you have suggestions for research questions!

BigBang

Stefania on ‘Tech-Based States of Emergency’ (PRIO, January 27)

On January the 27th, Stefania will contribute to the event ‘Tech-Based States of Emergency: Public Responses and Societal implications’ organised by the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO). She will join Brenda Jimris-Rekve (Basic Internet Foundation) and Sean Boots (Canadian Digital Services) as speakers, with Maria Gabrielsen Jumbert and Kristoffer Lidén from PRIO as moderator and an introduction by Bruno Oliveira Martins (PRIO), project leader of “States of Emergency as Disruptive Pandemic Politics”. As this is a virtual event, you can register to attend following this link.

Event description: Tech-Based States of Emergency: Public Responses and Societal implications

A one-in-a-century pandemic challenges global stability, threatening the lives of millions and the economic well-being of most countries on earth. Many states are invoking state of emergencies as the world collectively faces the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. States have relied on technologies to help mitigate the spread of the disease by deploying the use of metadata analysis, geolocation tracking, facial recognition screening and drones. But the resort to tech-based solutions to a complex social problem raises new questions that demand public and societal scrutiny.

Niels and Stefania at Privacy Camp

On January the 26th, Niels ten Oever and Stefania Milan will partake in the annual appointment of the Privacy Camp, this time round however only in virtual format.

Both will feature in the panel “Wiring digital justice: Embedding rights in Internet governance ‘by infrastructure’” (12.05-13), where Niels is a speaker and Stefania co-moderates together with Francesca Musiani (CNRS Paris). Know more about topic and speaker line-up. Niels and Francesca are also the organisers of the session.

Later in the day, Stefania will contribute to the panel “Reclaim Your Face, Reclaim Your Space: resisting the criminalisation of public spaces under biometric mass surveillance” (14.05-15), organised by Ella Jakubowska (European Digital Rights). Further details can be found here.

 

“Contentious data” paper development workshop hosted by Davide and Stefania (November 12-13)

On November 12-13, Davide and Stefania will host a paper development workshop where the prospective authors of the special issue Contentious Data: The Social Movement Society in the Age of Datafication will have the chance to discuss their draft papers. The issue is edited by Stefania Milan, Davide Beraldo and Cristina Flesher Fominaya, and will be submitted to the International peer-reviewed journal Social Movement Studies. Due to the pandemic, the workshop has been moved to Zoom.

 

 

 

Stefania at the kick-off of “Global Digital Cultures” (2 October)

The University of Amsterdam has a new Research Priority Area dedicated to exploring “Global Digital Cultures”. Global Digital Cultures is a interdisciplinary research community for comparing and analyzing the profound changes brought about by digitization around the globe. Read more here.

The kick-off event of the new Research Priority Area featured a keynote by Prof. Louise Amoore (Durham University) in conversation with our PI Stefania Milan, along the lines of Amoore’s latest book on “Cloud Ethics” (Duke University Press, 2020).

Stefania in conversation with Ranga Yogeshwar (Berlin & YouTube, 19 September)

Stefania was in Berlin on Saturday the 19th of September to give a talk at the Futurium museum–the awesome House of Futures.

With a reduced audience due to Covid-19, Stefania discussed risks and opportunities of datafication in conversation with Germany’s most famous science journalist, Ranga Yogeshwar. The event is available on YouTube. Note that the talk is in English with some inserts (e.g., the introduction) in German. Enjoy!

Stefania at 2.Dh5 Festival, Utrecht

On 1-2 February, Stefania will attend the 2.Dh5 Festival in Utrecht, the Netherlands. She will give a presentation on “Surveillance capiralism and the future of data activism” , with a Q&A section (date and time will be announced on the 2.Dh5 Festival website).

About the presentation:

Surveillance capitalism is grounded on the transformation of human actions, interactions and emotions into data points which can be quantified, analysed and monetised. It accelerates the crisis of liberal democracies, and changes the role of information and technology in the constitution of our societies. People may react by fighting the aggressive intermediation of the industry, including social media platforms, and the snooping of the state, for example through “smart city” projects. Others may leverage the possibilities for transformative collective action harboured by big data. This talk explores how citizens, social change activists, and variably skilled users engage with datafication looking at emerging practices of “data activism”. It takes stock of the main tendencies we observe on the field, and surveys emerging areas such as algorithmic activism and device activism.

Download the presentation.

Stefania at Workshop organized by OffTopic Lab, Milan

On 25 January 2020, Stefania will attend the workshop “Contesto urbano. Strumenti e pratiche per deostruire il Modello Milano” organised by OffTopic Lab in Milan, Italy. She will participate in the rountable “La città ambigua: presente e futuro della metropoli tra decoro, sorveglianza, greenwashing (The ambiguous city: present and future of the metropolis between decoration, surveillance, greenwashing)” from 15.00 to 18.00.

Stefania at the CPDP Computer, Privacy and Data Protection Conference, Brussels

On Thursday 23 Janurary 2020, Stefania will attend the 13th International Conference of CPDP in Brussels, Belgium. She will speak in the panel ‘Online privacy, algorithmic bias, targeted political advertising — an interdisciplinary conversation’ organized by Mozilla. She will join on stage with other speakers: Fanny Hidvegi (Access Now); Matt Rogerson (The Guardian); and Sarah Bird (Mozilla).

 

Panel Desciption:

With an increasing degree of automation in the systems responsible for content delivery, advertisement platforms and content recommender systems alike are filtering, weighting, and ranking a continuous feed of potential items to provide a tailored experience to each individual based on their personal preferences and past behaviour. The complexity of such systems introduces a sophisticated (and almost totally opaque) new layer to peoples’ ability to access information. Automated decisions drastically impact our access to information and relationship with content serving and journalistic platforms. In many cases, the definition of success for such systems is not based on individual or societal well-being, but rather on some variation of engagement or revenue. A common belief motivating the design and optimization of these algorithms is that more (private) information about an individual equates to a better experience and more valuable advertisement via increasingly specific programmatic micro-targeting. This panel will present a multidisciplinary investigation of the interaction between data collection, the algorithmic nature of content recommendation systems, the commercial forces at play for such platforms and the individual and societal consequences of their prevalence.