Our latest series delves into the politics of data. Data has become an increasingly complex force, influencing more and more aspects of social life. This series will explore the role of data and algorithms in research and society, critically interrogating data-driven processes and epistemologies. This series was coordinated by Mark Carrigan (@Mark_Carrigan) and the full collection of posts will be collated below. For more on this topic, also see Mark Carrigan’s interview series on the Philosophy of Data Science and the Discover Society special issue on the Politics of Data (Science).
The Politics of Data Series
In Artificial Unintelligence: How Computers Misunderstand the World, Meredith Broussard adds to the growing literature exploring the limits of artificial intelligence (AI) and techno-solutionism, furthermore showing how its socially-constructed nature replicates existing structural inequalities. Calling for greater racial and gender diversity in tech, the book offers a timely, accessible and often entertaining account that sets the record straight on what current approaches […]
In The Data Gaze: Capitalism, Power and Perception, David Beer explores how we are being put under the extractive, analytic and predictive lens of a data gaze that seeks to define our world in increasingly granular detail. Critically probing into the data analytics industry and the imaginary that gives it legitimacy, Beer offers a thoroughly readable take on the structures that are constructing […]
Research should not allow the loud voice of online content production to drown out the quiet majority of internet users
Social science research aims to record, analyse, and make sense of social mess; to observe and account for everything in a given setting. Why, then, does so much of the research carried out online refuse to do this? Harry Dyer argues that in order to understand the social uses of the internet, it is crucial that research is not […]
Facebook and the digital romance economy: courtship, scams, and internet regulation in the global South.
Through the controversial internet.org initiative, Facebook now serves as The Internet to the majority of the world’s marginalized demographic. The Politics of Data series continues with Payal Arora discussing the role of Facebook and internet regulation in the global South. While the West have had privacy laws in place since the 1970s, the emerging markets are only now seriously grappling with this. This […]
In the 19th century, changes in knowledge were facilitated not only by large quantities of new information pouring in from around the world but by shifts in the production, processing and analysis of that information. Hamish Robertson and Joanne Travaglia trace the connections between the 19th century data revolution and the present day one, outlining the implications this may have […]
Web analytics in the workplace: What Amazon and web newsrooms have in common – and where they differ.
The Politics of Data series continues with an investigation of how data-driven performance measurements operate in the workplace. What can we learn from the case of clicks in online news? Drawing from her ethnographic research shadowing web journalists, Angèle Christin illuminates the ambiguous and rather vague sets of meanings associated with clicks and web metrics that have become so omnipresent in online […]
It is difficult to see the political structure of data, because data maintains a veneer of scientistic objectivity. But data is inherently a form of politics, argues Jeffrey Alan Johnson. Data does not just allocate material things of value, it allocates moral values as well. Data producers encode a state of the world at a given time, which is […]
Today we launch a series of posts on the politics of data. Big data, small data and data sharing will be critically examined by a range of experts, each exploring the implications of the changing data landscape for research and society. In the first piece, Sabina Leonelli and Louise Bezuidenhout argue the study of data itself is an excellent entry point to […]