How do data infrastructures distribute participation across society and culture? Do they participate in world-making, and if so how? Could they be utilised not just to close discussions, but also to open up public debate, imagination and experimentation?
This panel is about the world-making capacities of emerging data infrastructures - including their epistemic, social and political possibilities and limitations. It examines how emerging data infrastructures may distribute and redistribute participation in knowledge and world-making across society and culture - from the platform data of big technology companies to open data from public institutions, citizen data, sensor data and associated forms of journalism and activism. How are digital technologies entangled with social practices of classifying, counting, reasoning, narrating and making decisions? Rather than just extending the reach of certain pre-authorised ways of knowing, seeing and dealing with things, how might digital technologies support more substantive forms of interactivity and participation in order to open up public conversations, imagination and experimentation about how data is made and put to work? One of the key strengths of research methods and design approaches developed across STS, participatory design and digital social research has always been their experimentality - the ways in which they seek to combine knowing and doing - representing and intervening in social life - in potentially new, creative ways. This session asks: What distinctive forms of engagement with data infrastructures do these methods and approaches enable, and what is their capacity to contribute to data world-making? This panel organised by the Public Data Lab (http://publicdatalab.org) will explore the capacity of STS, design and digital methods to take on the challenges outlined above, with the aim of identifying priorities for exploring and intervening around emerging data infrastructures today.