MeCCSA 2018 Critical Data Literacy paper abstract

I enjoyed MeCCSA 2018 in London South Bank this year – lots of interesting papers and it was great to meet old friends there too. I presented fresh findings from our new Critical Data Literacy project (University of Brighton), in what I think was the only data-related panel of the conference. Here is the abstract of the paper, and we will soon be preparing this as a journal article. 

MeCCSA 2018 Dr Aristea Fotopoulou “Creativity and critical data literacy for advocacy”

Abstract

Big data are everywhere, and they are transforming the way we live. But making sense of data and communicating in ways that are relevant to broad audiences and for the social good requires the skills and literacy to access, analyse and interpret them. Literature on data literacy mostly focuses on administrative and technical competences and is aimed at professionals and service providers (Frank et al, 2016). What do community organisations need to know if they want to communicate in an engaging way? How can data become relevant and accessible for the social good? And how can these skills help them address the critical and ethical questions that relate to data? This paper presents work from an ongoing research project that addresses these questions, and argues that there is pressing need to develop practices that allow civil society to use open data for advocacy, to make data more relevant and appealing to communities, and enable their engagement in policy debates. Situated within emerging debates in the fields of critical data studies and data literacy (Carretero, Vuorikari and Punie, 2017; Dalton and Thatcher, 2014; D’Ignazio, 2017; Hill et al., 2016; Kitchin and Lauriault, 2014), it draws from empirical work that identifies key elements of a “critical data literacy”  relevant to community organisations. It reports findings from two workshops with civil society organisations in the Southeast of England where we explored how a combination of creative media, storytelling and analytics allow participants to generate debates around specific issues that affect their communities, and help them tell stories that empower them.

Keywords: community, advocacy, open data, citizen engagement, critical data literacy, critical data studies

 

References

Carretero, S., Vuorikari, R. and Punie, Y. (2017) DigComp 2.1. The Digital Competence Framework for Citizens. With eight proficiency levels and examples of use. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.

D’Ignazio, C., (2017) Creative data literacy. Information Design Journal23(1), pp.6-18.

Frank, M., Walker, J., Attard, J. and Tygel, A. (2016) ‘Data literacy – What is it and how can we make it happen?’, The Journal of Community Informatics, 12(3), pp. 4–8.

Hill, R. L., Kennedy, H., and Gerrard, Y. (2016) Visualizing Junk: Big Data Visualizations and the Need for Feminist Data Studies. Journal of Communication Inquiry 40, no. 4 (2016): 331-350.

Kitchin, R., and Lauriault, T., P., (2014) “Towards critical data studies: Charting and unpacking data assemblages and their work. The Programmable City Working Paper 2.”

 

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Can data be neutral? //This Side of Reality

I very much enjoyed being part of the live podcast This Side of Reality in October, but was too busy to update the blog. Tanya (DR TANYA KANT, Lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies, University of Sussex), Chris (CHRIS MIDDLETON, Journalist / Author / Robotics Expert / MusicianandCJ had all interesting insights to share, and it was great to be on the panel for this episode (episode 3: Can Data be Neutral?). We discussed various matters around data and discrimination and I also had a chance to present the Critical Data Literacy project.
You can now listen to the edited podcast (and of course share if you’d like) on iTunesTotallyRadio and SoundCloud.

Brighton Digital Festival explores the unexpected realities of digital culture in a new live podcast. Hosted by CJ Thorpe at 68 Middle Street. Broadcast live from the event on TotallyRadio DAB and totallyradio.com.

12 Oct – Episode 3: Can Data Be Neutral?

We think of data as science – indisputable collection of facts.

With machine learning taking over important aspects of our lives, we need to ask: can data ever be neutral? Are we running risks of automating existing biases and prejudice into our digital future?

From big data being used to determine employability, insurance, and criminal convictions, to personalised search results and newsfeeds stifling learning and democracy – we talk about the politics and ethics of data and machine learning.

 

 

Critical Data Literacy, Creative Media and Social Equality Research project

My new research project is about to start (once a Research Assistant joins me: see job ad here). I have become very interested lately in what can constitute the principles of a critical data literacy that is central for citizen engagement. Big data are everywhere, and they are transforming the way we live. But making sense of data and communicating in ways that are relevant to broad audiences and for the social good requires the skills and literacy to access, analyse and interpret them. My new University of Brighton research project addresses the need to develop practices that allow citizens to work with data, to make data more relevant and appealing to communities, and enable their engagement in policy debates. Instead then of focusing on enhancing data analysis and technical skills, I am interested to explore how a combination of creative media, storytelling and analytics allows participants to generate debates around specific issues that affect their communities.

I will be working with community organisations in the Brighton area, running a Datahub workshop focusing on sexuality/gender as they play out with other social issues, such as poverty, unemployment and housing. For updates see https://criticaldataliteracy.com.

 

 

 

Research and Enterprise Excellence Awards University of Brighton

This summer I was honoured to receive the 2016/2017 University of Brighton Early Career Research & Enterprise Award.  Nominated by the Head of School Helen W Kennedy for my work in digital culture, emerging technologies and social change, I received the award alongside five other awards that went to very inspirational colleagues, such as Professor Marie-Bénédicte Dembour and Jo Wilding for Impact of their examination of the treatment of unaccompanied children seeking asylum in the UK.

The Research and Enterprise Excellence Awards are a celebration of success across the research and enterprise community at the University of Brighton.

For the 2016/2017 awards, nominations were invited to recognise the achievements of colleagues who have produced a body of work that has demonstrated significant impact or engagement within the last twelve months. The judging panel comprised the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise), the Directors of Research and Development and the Director of Research, Enterprise and Social Partnerships. Awards were presented at the inaugural Research and Enterprise Conference on Monday 5 June 2017.

Interview about the book

For those too busy to read the entire book, here is an interview I gave to the Centre for Communication & Social Change at the University of Queensland. It’s called, well, feminist activism and the digital, and I talk about the motivations, the challenges, and the key premises of the book.