I presented at the Data Publics conference last weekend, at Lancaster University. Got lots of helpful feedback to some early thoughts on publics (thinking with some of my old favourites, Despret, Haraway, Marres, Stengers, etc.).
Provoked by Vinciane Despret’s “W for Work”, in “What would animals say if we asked the right questions?”, my starting point was the question:
An extended engagement with a community and its data
We present findings from a five-week deployment of voting technologies in a city neighbourhood. Drawing on Marres’ (2012) work on material participation and Massey’s (2005) conceptualisation of space as dynamic, we designed the deployment such that the technologies (which were situated in residents’ homes, on the street, and available online) would work in concert, cutting across the neighbourhood to make visible, juxtapose and draw together the different ‘small worlds’ within it. We demonstrate how the material infrastructure of the voting devices set in motion particular processes and interpretations of participation, putting data in place in a way that had ramifications for the recognition of heterogeneity. We conclude that redistributing participation means not only opening up access, so that everyone can participate, or even providing a multitude of voting channels, so that people can participate in different ways. Rather, it means making visible multiplicity, challenging notions of similarity, and showing how difference may be productive.
See more on the CSCW site here. See an early draft here.
We present findings from a year-long engagement with a street and its community. The work explores how the production and use of data is bound up with place, both in terms of physical and social geography. We detail three strands of the project. First, we consider how residents have sought to curate existing data about the street in the form of an archive with physical and digital components. Second, we report endeavours to capture data about the street’s environment, especially of vehicle traffic. Third, we draw on the possibilities afforded by technologies for polling opinion. We reflect on how these engagements have: materialised distinctive relations between the community and their data; surfaced flows and contours of data, and spatial, temporal and social boundaries; and enacted a multiplicity of ‘small worlds’. We consider how such a conceptualisation of data-in-place is relevant to the design of technology.
I recently had an email exchange with Irina Shklovski in which she kindly sent me the paper she presented at the CHI conference this year. It’s a great paper, with some carefully thought through insights into the data we produce and (often inadvertently) share when using smart phones.
The paper got me thinking about some broader (and long-standing) issues I’ve been working through myself related to the researcher’s agential (and often inadvertent) role in empirical research. What follows are some slightly amended comments I’ve shared with Irina. (more…)
Wasn’t expecting the digression into spirits and performance art, but I do like Thrift’s continual efforts to write about expansive human/agent capacities and extending the .
...the claim is being made that, as computational objects have developed, cities are able to take on new forms of vitality (Stern, 2010), forms of vitality which can develop over time. Perhaps one way in which we might consider this ques- tion is precisely through looking at how vitality devel- ops when computational things are explicitly included in the contours of experience. Then it becomes clear that it has only gradually arisen, line by line, algorithm by algorithm, program by program.
Really helpful paper from Matthew Wilson on the interminglings of data and geography. Although more concentrated on a particular aspect of community life (namely reporting problems or damage to local facilities etc.), the paper has some strong relevances for the Tenison Road project. Especially useful are Wilson’s thoughts on mattering in relation to feminist technoscience and of course
Wilson cites: Haraway D J, 1991 Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature (Routledge, New York)
Haraway D J, 1999, “Knowledges and the question of alliances”, in Knowledges and the Question of Alliances: A Conversation with Nancy Hartsock, Donna Haraway, and David Harvey (Kane Hall, University of Washington, Seattle, WA)
After a tremendous about of work with Lara Houston, I’m delighted to have finally gone live with our data policy site: data-policy.info. It attempts to detail, in various formats and cuts, the discussions at the day of dialogues on data, policy and civic life, held at Microsoft Research Cambridge. More than this though, we want the site to promote further discussion and expand the ways we might think of the relations between data, social/civic life, and policy. For me, the inspiration here has been the work a few of us have been doing with Tenison Road in cambridge and a community’s efforts to make sense of and use its data. I’d like to think something small and local could make a difference in these big discussions