“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

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Portuguese translation of “The Data Journalism Handbook: Towards A Critical Data Practice” launched at Coda.Br 21

An open access Portuguese translation of The Data Journalism Handbook: Towards A Critical Data Practice was launched last night at Coda.Br 21 in Brazil. 🎊

To mark the launch we had a panel with co-editor Liliana Bounegru (King’s College London), Natália Mazotte (Insper) and Cédric Lombion (Open Knowledge Foundation) in which we discussed:

  • changes in the field (including not taking data for granted, making data and investigating platforms and algorithms)
  • how to tell stories which affirm uncertainty and provisionality in relation to data (without fuelling denial or undermining trust)
  • how we relate to data (including indigenous data practices, Mona Chalabi‘s drawing with data, relational perspectives on data)
  • how data journalists may respond to misinformation and disinformation, including not just fighting misleading claims with facts, but also by exploring how different kinds of claims circulate/resonate, and why
  • how data journalists may work with and centre communities of the affected and stay with their stories, issues, troubles, frictions

The recording of the panel can be found here and in Portuguese translation here.

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“Ways of Listening to Forests” workshop at Critical Zones exhibition, ZKM, 26th November 2021

There will be a free online workshop on 26th November 2021 featuring our forest listening project as part of the Critical Zones exhibition curated by Bruno Latour and Peter Weibel at the ZKM Center for Art and Media. This builds on a previous workshop in the summer. The sound pieces are now online as part of the Critical Zones exhibition and can be downloaded from the project website.

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Times Literary Supplement feature on Public Domain Review: “a labyrinth to get lost in”

The Public Domain Review, which I co-founded with Adam Green ten years ago this year, has been featured in a review by the Times Literary Supplement: “Broken knowledge: A beautiful website that serves as ‘a labyrinth to get lost in’”. Here are some excerpts from the piece:

You will not find in the journal orthodox material from official histories. What you will find instead is an oubliette of forgotten knowledge returned to us in a new form, making the Review a form of cultural unconscious. 


Nothing here is less than witty and outlandish, but the most beguiling aspect of the Review is its beauty. Iconography, the stranger the better, is central to the project: photographs of the moon, film reels from space, lithographs of mushrooms, illustrations from the logbooks of Nantucket whaling ships, botanical drawings, early nineteenthcentury Astronomia playing cards, maps of Martian canals, Filippo Morghen’s fanastical visions of lunar life (1776), sixteenth-century imagery of comets. 


“Wondrous” and “taxonomical” are at the heart of the Public Domain Review. Sir Francis Bacon described wonder as “broken knowledge”, which perfectly captures the spirit of this particular wonderland, in which what looks like sublime disorder is in fact a Borgesian taxonomy of impossibilities.


The taxonomies of the Public Domain Review have a similar “power of enchantment” (the term is used by Foucault in The Order of Things, to describe “the sudden vicinity of things that have no relation to each other”). 

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Why open access matters

MIT Press invited me to provide a quote on why I think open access matters for Open Access Week 2021. Here it is:

“Open access is not just about increasing availability, but also about rethinking and changing the roles of research in collective life: who and what it serves; how it may be meaningful, valuable or actionable; and how it may reshape how we relate to each other and the world around us.

Now more than ever it is crucial to look beyond publication as personal accomplishment, institutional prestige or asset class, and towards more inclusive and equitable arrangements that support collective learning, participation and imagination in responding to many urgent issues we face.”

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“Face of the virus” report with besea.n on problematic over-representation of East and South East Asian faces in news coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic

I was part of a group of volunteers with besea.n contributing to a new report – “Face of the virus: Problematic over-representation of East and South East Asian faces in news coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic”. You can download the report here, and here’s the summary:

In an analysis of images of people in news coverage from the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, besea.n found that East and South East Asian (ESEA) faces were disproportionately prominent.
Whereas ESEA people are an estimated 1-2% of the UK population, in examining a randomised sample of news coverage of the pandemic we found that ESEA faces were present in 20% of stock images of faces where images of any faces could have been used.
While ESEA people are generally under-represented in UK media, when it comes to the pandemic they look to be problematically over-represented, thus feeding into racialised narratives of the virus and coinciding with a staggering increase in the number of hate crimes and hate incidents against people of ESEA heritage worldwide.

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Chapter on “data witnessing” in Routledge Handbook of Humanitarian Communication

Happy to have my research on “data witnessing” included in the new Routledge Handbook of Humanitarian Communication edited by Lilie Chouliaraki and Anne Vestergaard. Here’s the book blurb:

The Routledge Handbook of Humanitarian Communication is an authoritative and comprehensive guide to research in the academic sub-field of humanitarian communication. It is broadly focused on communication that presents human vulnerability as a cause for public concern and encompasses communication with respect to humanitarian aid and development as well as human rights and “humanitarian” wars.

Recent years have seen the expansion of critical scholarship on humanitarian communication across a range of academic fields, sharing recognition of the centrality of media and communications to our understanding of humanitarianism as an agent of transnational power, global governance and cosmopolitan solidarity. The Handbook brings into dialogue these diverse fields, their theoretical frameworks and methodological approaches as well as the public debates that lie at the heart of the contemporary politics of humanitarianism. It consolidates existing knowledge and maps out this emerging field as an important site of interdisciplinary knowledge production on media, communication and humanitarianism.

As such, the Handbook is not simply a collection of texts sharing a similar theme. It is a coherent intellectual contribution which systematizes current critical scholarship in terms of Domains, Methods and Issues and sets an agenda of emerging and evolving research priorities in the field. Consisting of 26 chapters written by international scholars, who have contributed to laying the foundation of the field, this volume provides an essential guide to the key ideas, issues, concepts and debates of humanitarian communication.

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Workshop on “Interrogating Global Traces of Infrastructure”, 18th November 2021

I’ll be taking part in an online workshop on “Interrogating Global Traces of Infrastructure” organised by Urszula Pawlicka-Deger as part of her Marie Skłodowska-Curie DH Infra project together with the King’s Digital Lab, the Department of Digital Humanities at King’s College London and the Critical Infrastructure Studies collective.

This will include a panel discussion that I’m chairing with Geoffrey C. Bowker (University of California, Irvine, US), Paul N. Edwards (Stanford University, US), Jennifer Gabrys (University of Cambridge, UK) and Noortje Marres (University of Warwick, UK).

The schedule is available here and copied below and you can register here.

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Gathering data on hate crimes against East and Southeast Asian (ESEA) people in the UK

I’ve been working with anti-racism campaign group End Violence and Racism Against East and Southeast Asian (ESEA) Communities to help gather and examine data on hate crimes against ESEA people in the UK. This work was recently featured in several national and regional news pieces by ITV – focusing on almost a 50% rise in reported incidents from 2018 to 2020.

Video clip from ITV News at Ten piece

Here are the links:

On the data side, there are many further stories to unpack about race, crime, classification, recognition and (non-) reporting – including on the concept of hate crime, the politics of ESEA mobilisations, the role of ethnicity in official reporting systems (including the use of the problematic classifier “Oriental” in official databases) and how it happens that incidents are not reported, classified or disclosed.

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Senior Lecturing

As of last Friday I am Senior Lecturer in Critical Infrastructure Studies (equivalent to Associate Professor in the US) in the Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London. 🎊

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Posted in academia, Data Journalism Handbook, data politics, Data Worlds, datajournalism, higher education, Public Data Lab, Reassembling Scholarly Commuincations, research, teaching | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments closed

“Guest People”

To coincide with the first East and Southeast Asian Heritage Month (#ESEAHM2021) this September, here’s a bit of our Hakka family’s movement story. It is cross-posted from kindredpacket and was also featured as part of “Stories of Our Heritage”, a live community storytelling event. There’s a petition to obtain official recognition for ESEAHM which you can sign here.

When my sister and I were little, we grew up with different stories about our family and where we came from. We used to sit with Gung Gung, our mother’s father, on fold-out chairs in the corner of his basement flat in San Francisco, with its pictures and quotes on the wall, his chess set, the blue glow of gas on the cooker, and he would tell us about where he grew up. 

Po Po, our mother’s mother, would sing us songs from her childhood, and tell us phrases and sayings—most memorably “Have you eaten?” and “Eat, sleep, go to toilet”. 

There were a few old small black and white portraits of family there. While we grew up with these stories and pictures, it has taken longer for us to piece together what happened…

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