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Session Overview
Roundtable-06: Future Directions for Critical Data Studies
Friday, 20/Oct/2017:
2:00pm - 3:30pm

Location: Dorpat - Baer
Soola 6, Tartu 51013, Estonia

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Future Directions for Critical Data Studies

Helen Kennedy1, Lina Dencik2, Tarleton Gillespie3, Jonathan Gray4, Stefania Milan5

1University of Sheffeld, United Kingdom; 2Cardiff University, United Kingdom; 3Microsoft Research, Boston, USA; 4University of Bath, United Kingdom; 5University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Datafication (the quantification of aspects of life previously experienced in qualitative, non-numeric form, like communicating, having friends, expressing emotions, keeping fit, moving around, shopping, seeking information) is everywhere. In response to this development, a new field of Critical Data Studies has emerged, spanning a range of existing disciplines and is also constituting a field in its own right. To date, Critical Data Studies researchers have done important work in tempering celebrations of big data, highlighting the many troubling consequences of the rise and spread of datafication, like less privacy and more surveillance, inequality and social discrimination, and new mechanisms for controlling publics and how they come to be represented and understood. This research research has been important in pointing to the serious issues that datafication raises in relation to rights, liberties and social justice. At the same time, other Critical Data Studies academics have begun to think about the possibilities for agency and resistance that might exist in datafied times and in the face of data power, for example through collective data activism or more individualised acts, such as taking ownership of personal data or working around data-gathering practices.

As Critical Data Studies matures, it is important to take stock of the work it has done to date and the future directions it needs to take. This roundtable discussion aims to do just that. It brings together researchers who have played an important role in developing this emergent field, each of whom will briefly present their visions for the future of Critical Data Studies, before opening the session up to wider debate.

Panelists include:

  • Lina Dencik, Data Justice Lab, Cardiff, UK
  • Tarleton Gillespie, Microsoft Research, Boston, USA
  • Jonathan Gray, Data Publics Lab, Bath, UK
  • Helen Kennedy, Digital Society Network, Sheffield, UK
  • Stefania Milan, DataActive, Amsterdam, Netherlands / Oslo, Norway

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