This has been under wraps for a while, but it has just been publicly announced that I’ll be joining the Department of Digital Humanities at King’s College London as Lecturer in Critical Infrastructure Studies.
The department is a world-leading centre for doing social and cultural research both with and about the digital. It is one of the oldest departments for research in this area, going back to the 1970s. In addition to its pioneering work in the digital humanities, current research and teaching interests in the department include new media theory, digital methods, digital sociology, social networks, participatory culture, data economies and industries, and the politics of platforms, big data and artificial intelligence. In terms of methods and approaches, it combines empirical digital research, social and humanistic reflection, public intervention and experimentation, and cultural practice. King’s has been ranked as one of the top 25 universities in the world, and has made significant investments to support its digital studies agenda.
In this new role I’ll continue my research and activities around the politics of data – including on my Data Worlds book and associated papers and projects on digital methods, data activism, data journalism, data visualisation, networks, participatory design, participatory data infrastructures and other topics. I will also continue work to develop the Public Data Lab, which I co-founded earlier this year, collaborating in the first instance with a network of colleagues at leading centres such as the Digital Methods Initiative (University of Amsterdam), the médialab (Sciences Po, Paris), the Techno-Anthropology Lab (Copenhagen), the DensityDesign lab (Politecnico di Milano), the Media of Cooperation group (University of Siegen) and beyond. I will contribute to building links between King’s and other leading research centres, public institutions and civil society groups in relevant fields.
What about the title, “Lecturer in Critical Infrastructure Studies”? My friend and colleague Alex Cobham, who is Chief Executive of the Tax Justice Network, sent his own artistic interpretation of my new role:
My work at King’s will look at the politics and social life of not just datasets, but also the socio-technical infrastructures which underpin their creation, analysis and circulation, drawing on fields such as information infrastructure studies, science and technology studies, internet studies, new media studies, software studies, platform studies and the history and sociology of quantification. As well as drawing on recent approaches from “critical data studies“, I’m keen to develop approaches to what I call “critical data practice” (drawing on Agre’s notion of “critical technical practice“), bringing critical, historical and sociological reflection to bear on practical “data work”. These themes will be reflected in courses I will be teaching at King’s on digital methods, data journalism and the politics of data.
If you’re interested in studying, researching or collaborating around any of these topics with King’s College London, please do get in touch with us. You can follow the Department of Digital Humanities at @kingsdh.
Finally, a big “thank you for having me” to friends and colleagues at the University of Bath, where I spent the previous year as a 50th Anniversary Prize Fellow. I will continue to collaborate with the Institute for Policy Research, in particular around their work on evidence, data and democracy.