Investigating infodemic – researchers, students and journalists work together to explore the online circulation of COVID-19 misinformation and conspiracies

The following is cross-posted from the blog of the Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London.

Over the past year researchers and students at the Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London have contributed to a series of collaborative digital investigations into the online circulation of COVID-19 misinformation and conspiracies.

As part of a pilot on “engaged research led teaching” at King’s College London, undergraduate and graduate students have contributed to projects developed with journalists, media organisations and non-governmental organisations around the world.

These were undertaken in association with the Arts and Humanities Research Council funded project Infodemic: Combatting COVID-19 Conspiracy Theories, which explores how digital methods grounded in social and cultural research may facilitate understanding of WHO has described as an “infodemic” of misleading, fabricated, conspiratorial and other problematic material related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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How might the Global Data Barometer promote critical engagements with data infrastructures?

https://globaldatabarometer.org/about/

The following is cross-posted from the Global Data Barometer. I’ll be helping to advise the project drawing on my research on the politics of open and public data, including Data Worlds.

I’m delighted to be joining the Global Data Barometer project. My role will be to help to review, write-up and reflect on the implications of the materials, perspectives and insights which have been gathered. I’m particularly interested in exploring questions like:

  • How are civil society groups engaging with public data and around public data infrastructures around the world?
  • What can we learn about the availability and capacity to use different kinds of data sources around the world?
  • What can we learn about the use and impact of open and public data around the world?
  • What kinds of tensions, frictions and emerging issues and opportunities can be identified around data access, re-use and governance?
  • How might the Global Data Barometer broaden public engagement around data practices, policies and governance around the world?

I’m interested in how the Global Data Barometer organises and formats transnational, cross-sectoral civil society engagement around datafication and data infrastructures in particular ways and what we can learn from this. I’ve previously written about how projects such as the Open Data Index may both aim to conventionalise assessment of data around the world as well as surfacing different perspectives, issues and frictions.

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New article: “Journalism aggregators: an analysis of Longform.org”

An article on “Journalism aggregators: an analysis of Longform.org” co-authored by Marco Braghieri, Tobias Blanke and I has just been published in Journalism Research. The article is open access and available in both English and German. Here’s the abstract:

What is the role and significance of digital long-form content aggregators in contemporary journalism? This article contends that they are an important, emerging object of study in journalism research and provides a digital methods analysis and theoretical engagement with Longform.org, one of the most prominent long-form content aggregators on the web. We propose that Longform.org can be understood as leveraging the datafication of news content in order to valorize the long tail of archived material. Drawing on scraped data from the archive, we undertake an in-depth analysis into the practices of long-form aggregators. While Longform.org exhibits a degree of curatorial diversity, legacy news media outlets tend to be featured more frequently. Accessibility of news media archives is one of the most relevant factors for being featured by Longform.org. Our analysis demonstrates the relevant role of smaller digital-only publications, which provide a unique mix of sources. Through a network analysis of scraped tags we explore the composition of themes, including personal, world-political, celebrity, technological and cultural concerns. The data and curatorial practices of such long-form aggregators may be understood as an area of contemporary news work that conditions which past perspectives are more readily available, experienceable and programmable on the web.

The article draws on Marco Braghieri’s research on long-form journalism and archives, about which you can read more in Yesterday’s News. The future of long-form journalism and archives recently published by Peter Lang.

Posted in academia, digital journalism, digital methods, research | Comments closed

Ways of Listening to Forests

I’m co-organising a project on “Ways of Listening to Forests” with the Public Data Lab exploring different practices and projects of forest listening, in association with the Critical Zones exhibition at ZKM curated by Bruno Latour and Peter Weibel. You can find out more about the project here and here’s an excerpt from the project description:

How can we sense and make sense of forests with devices, techniques and our bodies? How might we cultivate an interdisciplinary “arts of noticing” (Tsing) for attending to forests and their role in critical zones?

Engaging with themes in the Critical Zones exhibition and catalogue curated by Bruno Latour and Peter Weibel, this project explores different ways of listening to forests, drawing on different traditions, techniques, methods, media and approaches – from “Shinrin Yoku” (forest bathing) to sensing devices, data sonification to sound walks and storytelling.

The project includes a public workshop with ZKM as part of the Critical Zones exhibition to explore and compare different approaches and the possibilities and limits of forest experiences under current sensing conditions between immediacy and mediation.

For more on the use of digital data and devices to cultivate sensibilities towards trees and forests, see the Critical Zones field book and catalogue, including this chapter on “The Datafication of Forests”.

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New Digital Studies book series on Amsterdam University Press

To coincide with the launch of The Data Journalism Handbook: Towards a Critical Data Practice, today we’re also launching a new Digital Studies book series on Amsterdam University Press. This is co-edited together with Tobias Blanke, Liliana Bounegru, Carolin Gerlitz, Sabine Niederer and Richard Rogers.

We are particularly pleased to have this series based at AUP, which has a longstanding commitment to open access publication and which has published number of titles at the intersection between new media studies and science and technology studies in recent years, such as Issue Mapping for an Ageing Europe (Rogers, Sánchez Querubín & Kil, 2015), The Datafied Society: Studying Culture through Data (Schäfer & Es, 2017), Data Visualization in Society (Engebretsen & Kennedy, 2020), The Politics of Social Media Manipulation (Rogers & Niederer, 2020) and Engines of Order: A Mechanology of Algorithmic Techniques (Rieder, 2020).

Further details about the new series are copied below.

The Digital Studies book series aims to provide a space for social and cultural research with and about the digital. In particular, it focuses on ambitious and experimental works which explore and critically engage with the roles of digital data, methods, devices and infrastructures in collective life as well as the issues, challenges and troubles that accompany them.

The series invites proposals for monographs and edited collections which attend to the dynamics, politics, economics and social lives of digital technologies and techniques, informed by and in conversation with fields such as science and technology studies and new media studies.

The series welcomes works which conceptualize, rethink and/or intervene around digitally mediated practices and cultures. It is open to a range of contributions including thoughtful interpretive work, analytical artefacts, creative code, speculative design and/or inventive repurposing of digital objects and methods of the medium.

Series editors
Tobias Blanke, University of Amsterdam
Liliana Bounegru, King’s College London
Carolin Gerlitz, University of Siegen
Jonathan Gray, King’s College London
Sabine Niederer, Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences
Richard Rogers, University of Amsterdam

Editorial Board
Claudia Aradau, King’s College London
Payal Arora, Erasmus University Rotterdam
Taina Bucher, University of Oslo
Jean Burgess, Queensland University of Technology
Anita Say Chan, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Wendy Chun, Simon Fraser University
Gabriella Coleman, McGill University
Jennifer Gabrys, University of Cambridge
Evelyn Ruppert, Goldsmiths, University of London

Posted in academia, actor-network theory, books, data, data activism, data aesthetics, Data Journalism Handbook, data politics, datajournalism, datajournalismhandbook, digital, digital journalism, digital methods, digitalhumanities, media studies, open access, research, science and technology studies | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

“The Data Journalism Handbook: Towards a Critical Data Practice” now published on Amsterdam University Press

The Data Journalism Handbook: Towards a Critical Data Practice (which I co-edited with Liliana Bounegru) is out today on Amsterdam University Press (AUP) as part of a new Digital Studies book series which is also launching today. It is also available as an open access PDF which you can find linked to from the book’s web page. Here’s the blurb:

The Data Journalism Handbook: Towards a Critical Data Practice provides a rich and panoramic introduction to data journalism, combining both critical reflection and practical insight. It offers a diverse collection of perspectives on how data journalism is done around the world and the broader consequences of datafication in the news, serving as both a textbook and a sourcebook for this emerging field. With more than 50 chapters from leading researchers and practitioners of data journalism, it explores the work needed to render technologies and data productive for journalistic purposes. It also gives a ‘behind the scenes’ look at the social lives of datasets, data infrastructures, and data stories in newsrooms, media organizations, startups, civil society organizations and beyond. The book includes sections on ‘doing issues with data’, ‘assembling data’, ‘working with data’, ‘experiencing data’, ‘investigating data, platforms and algorithms’, ‘organizing data journalism’, ‘learning data journalism together’ and ‘situating data journalism’.

The full table of contents can be found on Liliana Bounegru’s blog along with a selection of quotes about the book from Kate Crawford, Wendy Espeland, Emmanuel Didier, Geoffrey C. Bowker, Lina Dencik, Rob Kitchin, José van Dijck, Alberto Cairo, Celia Lury, Sylvain Parasie and Anja Bechmann.

We’re most grateful to Sarah Sze and her studio, the Victoria Miro gallery and Mudam Luxembourg for permission to feature a picture of Sarah’s “Fixed Points Finding a Home” on the cover of the book. Here’s a brief quote on why we thought this would be a suitable image for the book:

While it might not seem an obvious choice to put a work of sculpture on the cover of a book about journalism, we thought this image might encourage a relational perspective on data journalism as a kind of curatorial craft, assembling and working with diverse materials, communities and infrastructures to generate different ways of knowing, narrating and seeing the world at different scales and temporalities. Rather than focusing on the outputs of data journalism (e.g., with screenshots of visualizations or interactives), we wanted to reflect the different kinds of processes and collectives involved in doing journalism with data. Having both serendipitously encountered and been deeply absorbed by Sze’s exhibitions at the Mudam, Venice Biennale, ZKM, the Tate and beyond, we thought her work could provide a different (and hopefully less familiar) vantage point on the practice of data journalism which would resonate with relational perspectives on information infrastructures and “data assemblages.” Her installations embody a precise and playful sensibility towards repurposing found materials that visually paralleled what we were hoping to emphasize with our editorial of different accounts of data journalism for the book. Bruno Latour recently wrote that Sze’s approach to assembling materials can be considered to affirm “compositional discontinuities” (Latour, 2020) —which sits well with our hopes to encourage “critical data practice” and to tell stories both with and about the diverse materials and actors involved in data journalism, as we discuss further below, as well as with our editorial approach in supporting the different styles, voices, vernaculars and interests of the chapters in this book.

Posted in academia, Bruno Latour, data, data aesthetics, Data Journalism Handbook, data politics, datajournalism, datajournalismhandbook, digital journalism, digital methods, media studies, open access, publications, research, science and technology studies, teaching | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments closed

“Data Worlds” under contract with MIT Press

I’m pleased to announce that my book on Data Worlds: The Politics Open and Public Data in the Digital Age is now under contract at MIT Press. 🎊 📖

The book has been a long time in the making and builds on over a decade of research and engagements with public data practices, cultures, projects and infrastructures (which you can sample here).

If you’d like to be notified when the book is published you can leave your details here and I’ll be in touch when the book is out (and those who are interested can opt-in to receive occasional updates and previews): http://bit.ly/data-worlds-update

An excerpt from the book’s prospectus and current table of contents is copied below.

Data Worlds: The Politics of Open and Public Data in the Digital Age

How are digital technologies changing the social life and politics of public data? How are different actors making, making sense with and changing things with public data? How can we rethink public participation and democratic politics in relation to data infrastructures and “datafication”? Data Worlds explores the visions, practices and technologies associated with open and public data over the past decade, and their broader implications for the future of the “data society”. Drawing on a combination of interviews, content analysis and digital methods research, the book provides empirical engagements with a wide variety of public data projects, theoretical perspectives on their world-making capacities, as well as an agenda for research and intervention around digital public data practices. This includes examining what can be learned through the work by “data activists” to compose alternative public data infrastructures, as well as the prospect of “critical data practice”, modifying data practices in light of critical research on datafication.

Table of Contents:

Introduction: Making Data Public, Making Public Data
1. Origin Stories and Conventions of Open Data
2. Ways of Seeing, Knowing and Being with Data
3. Doing Participation with Data
4. Coordinating Data Collectives and Transnational Data Worldmaking
5. Missing Data and Making Data: Data Infrastructural Interventions
6. Doing Data Differently? Towards a Critical Data Practice
Conclusion: Recomposing Data Worlds

Posted in academia, books, data, data activism, data aesthetics, data politics, Data Worlds, datajournalism, digital methods, open data, openknowledge, policy, politics, Public Data Lab, publications, research, science and technology studies | Comments closed

Happy 10th Birthday Public Domain Review!

Today is the 10th birthday of the Public Domain Review, which I co-founded along with its editor Adam Green.

As per its mission statement the review is “dedicated to the exploration of curious and compelling works from the history of art, literature, and ideas – focusing on works now fallen into the public domain, the vast commons of out-of-copyright material that everyone is free to enjoy, share, and build upon without restrictions”.

Happy Birthday Public Domain Review! 🎊 A year-by-year overview of the project has just been posted on its blog:

Ten years ago today — on 1st January 2011 — we launched The Public Domain Review! Since this auspicious day we’ve published 272 essays, 935 collection posts, featured 134 cultural archives and institutions, and welcomed a whopping 17 million of you to the site. We will be marking this momentous milestone of our tenth birthday with a number of exciting things, to be revealed over the next weeks and months. But for now, on the day itself, we thought it’d be fitting to treat you to a year-by-year glance back over the last decade of the project.

More about the broader vision of mapping and supporting engagement around the public domain and the cultural commons can be found in this 2013 post. Here’s an announcement on this blog from 1st Jan 2010.

If you’d like to support the project as it enters into its next decade you can become a friend or make a donation. 🧧

Posted in advocacy, art, copyright, history, humanities, intellectualhistory, openknowledge, publicdomainreview | Tagged , , , | Comments closed

Call for Papers: “Critical Technical Practice(s) in Digital Research”, Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies

A call for papers on “Critical Technical Practice(s) in Digital Research” has just been published by Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, for a special issue I’m guest editing with Daniela van Geenen (University of Siegen), Dr. Karin van Es (Utrecht University). The text of the call is available here and copied below.

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“Critical Zones” featured in New York Times “Best Art Books of 2020”

Critical Zones: The Science and Politics of Landing on Earth edited by Bruno Latour and Peter Weibel on MIT Press (to which I contributed a chapter on the “Datafication of Forests”) has been featured on the New York Times’s list of “Best Art Books of 2020”. ✨ 📖 🌱

‘CRITICAL ZONES: THE SCIENCE AND POLITICS OF LANDING ON EARTH’ Edited by Bruno Latour and Peter Weibel (MIT/ZKM Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe). Climate change should furnish to art what Galileo delivered to theology: a definitive rupture of where we think we stand. The giant catalog for this German exhibition unites philosophers, scientists, historians and artists (from Caspar David Friedrich to Sarah Sze) to re-anchor art inside a constantly transforming ecosystem. The old “Blue Marble” won’t cut it; we need new methods of depicting Earth and its landscapes that account for our codependency with all species. After all, as the editors write, aesthetics is “what renders one sensitive to the existence of other ways of life.”

Posted in academia, books, Bruno Latour, climatechange, data, data aesthetics, data politics, media appearances, publications, research, reviews, science and technology studies | Tagged , , , , | Comments closed