Catalyst Seminar & Workshop: Making Data
Making Data | Mobilizing Data
Community Information Practices and their Political Momentum
Lancaster University Management School, Lecture Theatre 4
22 January 2014, Seminar, LUMS, LT4 14.00-19.00
23 January 2014, Workshop, InfoLab21 C60 b/c, 9.30-13.00
Weds 22 Jan LT4 LUMS
13:30 – 14:00 Coffee in break out area LT4
14:00 – 14:25 Welcome & Introduction 'Agile, Mobile, Public: Communities in Crises'
14:25 – 15:05 Lived Informatics, John Rooksby, Computer Science, Glasgow University
15:05 – 15:45 Up My Street: Data and its street life, Alex Taylor, Microsoft Cambridge
15:45 – 16:15 Coffee in area
16:15 – 16:45 Mining Empathy – Franco Curmi, Catalyst Project, Computing, Lancaster
16:45 – 17:15 Community Data Explorer project - Daniel Heery, http://www.cybermoor.org
17:15 – 17:45 Unassailable Math and Contested Outcomes - Jeanette Blomberg, IBM
17:45 – 18:00 A little Data Play (bring your iphone!)
19:00 Dinner & DIscussion
Thu 23 Jan InfoLab21 C60 b/c
09:30 – 09:45 Reflections on previous day
09:45 – 10:30 Making data infrastructures in cities - Marcus Bylund, SICS Swedish ICT
10:30 – 11:15 WeSenseIT – Suvodeep Mazumdar, Computing, Sheffield University
11:15 – 12:00 How mobile 'communities' make (use of) data – Shaun Perng,
Programmable City project, NUI Maynooth, Ireland
12:00 – 12:30 Discussion
Data can be ‘lovely’ (McCandless 2010) – but what makes it lovely? And who? This workshop explores examples of community and neighbourhood information practices, which actively seek to make data useful for communities. Analysis will identify practices, opportunities and challenges of mobilising data for broader (e.g. social, economic, political, aesthetic, scientific or crisis management) aims.
Data – much of it generated as part of everyday living by all but the most marginalised people – brings ambiguous opportunities/challenges: On the one hand, ‘big data is the new oil’, fuelling global economic recovery (McKinsey Global Institute 2011). On the other, the amount of data, coupled with growing capabilities for agile processing, deep analytics, data-driven, proactive decision-making, and preventive approaches to health, risk management, law enforcement and security, also worry people. Albeit often unnoticed, data can constitute
a near complete map of private life: whom everyone talks to (by e-mail and phone), where everyone goes (mobile phone location co-ordinates), and what everyone reads online (websites browsed).
(Caspar Bowden, former Privacy Adviser to Microsoft, in Rauhofer, 2006:323)
In 2012 72% of European citizens were concerned that personal data may be shared without their permission or misused (Reding 2012). Recent disclosures about American and European surveillance programmes have stoked these anxieties, and political and economic operators fear that privacy worries may ‘discourage [citizens] from giving out their data … from buying goods and services online’ (ibid). This has prompted a thoroughgoing review of European data protection regulation and some data controllers now seek a ‘Data Dialogue’ (Demos 2012).
At the same time, radical and inventive community projects are arising at grassroots, with people using and making new kinds of data in new ways, or making corporate or public data collection, processing and uses visible for critical engagement. These projects encourage crowdsourcing and collective intelligence for citizen science (Hemment, Ellis, & Wynne, 2011), to mobilize people and resources during crises (Meier 2012, Starbird & Palen 2011), participatory art and sousveillance (Southern 2012, Clement & Potter 2008, Gray 2012).
With reference to concrete examples, this seminar (and workshop on 23 Jan) will also explore how these issues change our relationship as researchers - and participants - to data. With data now actively mined for commercial purposes, how does this reconfigure researchers - as analysts, ethnographers or critics? We bring together researchers who are exploring how community information practices might engender more "radically careful and carefully radical" (Latour 2008) big data production, analysis and use in a connected world.
Position Statements & Abstracts
Unassailable Math and Contested Outcomes: Negotiating the Meaning of Data Analytics
Jeanette Blomberg, Program manager for practice-based service innovation, IBM Almaden Research Center, San Jose, CA, USA
The business press summons organizations to manage their ‘data’ as a strategic resource, guiding such decisions as how best to market to customers, adjust inventory, or balance skills portfolios. The promises of (big) data analytics are vast and are presented as an imperative for those organizations (including civic and not-for-profit) who don’t want to get left behind. In this presentation I will explore some of the challenges facing those who desire to drive organizational decision-making based on the analysis of organizational data. Examples from ongoing research projects will focus on both the production of organizational data and the interpretation of data analytics by organizational actors. I will discuss how the different knowledge traditions and practical concerns of the variously positioned corporate actors shape the meaning of the data analytics and influence the ways in which the analyses are acted upon. I’ll conclude with a discussion of issues raised by these examples for data analytics as a resource for personal and community betterment.
Agile, Mobile, Public: Communities in Crises
Monika Buscher & Michael Liegl, mobilities.lab, Lancaster University
Almost every post-disaster report highlights a need for better integration of affected communities in emergency management (EM). Natural or manmade crises (e.g. floods, riots) can be addressed better with a ‘Whole Community’ approach, where “officials can collectively understand and assess the needs of their respective communities” and communities play an active part in planning and response (FEMA 2011). Social innovation has made social media (SM) an important force in this (see #SMEM), allowing more agile response, flexible mobilisation of local resources and knowledge, and public-minded community efforts. But SMEM and ‘crisis informatics’ (Palen 2007) also generate challenges for communities and statutory responders, ranging from misinformation to vigilante justice. In this paper we explore challenges and opportunities for better integration of civic action via SM into EM. How do grassroots crowdsourcing and human intelligence efforts in crises sit with ‘whole community security’ concepts and official emergency response protocols?
Making Data Infrastructures in Cities
Markus Bylund, SICS Swedish ICT
The vision of big data and how it can empower citizens in their everyday lives is grand. There are many proposals of how big data, by providing nearly complete maps of people’s life, can assist in shaping more sustainable, healthy, and joyful behavior. In practice, there are many challenges that must be overcome in order to produce this grand dataset, and even more so in order to achieve the envisioned behavioral effects, in particular if the aim is to make data useful for communities and the inhabitants of neighborhoods. In the project Smart ICT for living and working in Stockholm Royal Seaport, we detail a generic ICT infrastructure for a new city district under development in Stockholm. The project engages more than a dozen small and large companies from the telecom sector, construction companies, and the City of Stockholm. The mission of the project is to develop enablers for a generic ICT infrastructure that assists in reducing investment, climate and environmental costs while supporting the diversity of people living in a city in their daily life. In this project, we adopt a more horizontally oriented infrastructure perspective on IT for sustainable cities, as compared to maintaining separate and isolated perspectives based on individual industrial and service sectors. This opens for a better understanding of both opportunities and costs for the environment, climate, economy, and for social life.
Mining Empathy: Real-time Crowdsourcing of Social Support through Biometric Data
Franco Curmi, Computing, Lancaster University
Mining empathy: real-time crowdsourcing of social support through biometric data broadcast Franco Curmi, Lancaster University, UK The number of mobile applications that share personal data is constantly growing and the nature of the data shared is becoming increasingly personal. Existing freely available mobile applications like Runkeeper, Azumio and Nike+ allow users to share data as personal as biometric data, like heart rate, over social networks. With the technology behind the capturing of biometric data becoming more unobtrusive, this type of data sharing is likely to increase. To analyze the effects and possibilities that this data can have on communities, we developed HeartLink. HeartLink is a system that autonomously broadcasts personal data such as heart rate and tasks’ completion rate on behalf of the user that is conducting a challenging task. We describe how the system was deployed and pilot-tested during sport events. As the athletes carry out their tasks, online viewers not only engage with them by tracking their progress and monitor their effort, but can also provide support and boost their motivation by cheering them remotely.
Community Data Explorer - Bridging the Dada Divide
Daniel Heery, Cybermore
Engaging Citizens to Make Big Data
Suvodeep Mazumdar, Sheffield University
Citizen observatories are increasingly popular as means to establish interaction and co-participation between citizens and authorities. WeSenseIt is an EU FP7 project that aims at developing citizen observatories of water and flooding, which will allow citizens and communities to take on a new role in the information chain: a shift from the traditional one-way communication paradigm towards a two-way communication model in which citizens become active stakeholders in creating Situation Awareness. Int his talk we will present how WeSenseIt leverages different levels of citizens participation using custom mobile and web applications and innovative sensors to collect big data for sensitive areas. A combination of crowdsourcing and custom applications is adopted to empower and foster participation with the objective of creating an enriched knowledge base to foster decision making during emergencies while creating the basis for collaboration, trust and accountability of actions.
Mobile Communities and the Design and Production of Data Solutions
Shaun Perng, Programmable City Project, NUI Maynooth, Ireland
Big data sets are enabling new waves of city analytics to pursue smarter cities: cities that are effectively monitored, regulated and connected, as well as driving towards greater efficiency, sustainability, transparency and openness. Governmental, commercial or research partnerships have developed various strategies of making data, but a critical aspect that remains to be carefully examined concerns the tools, social relations, dynamics and politics revolving around making data useful.This paper presents an early exploration of how various ‘mobile’ communities incorporate programming and coding practices to promote dialogues between data and urban lives by using Dublin as an example. Events and initiatives such as open data movement, hackathons, app competitions, research partnerships or self-organised regular meetings of coders and programmers have mobilised citizens in and around Dublin to engage in uncovering existing historical and (near) real-time data about the city. These events and initiatives provide a way to see how data can be made to understand and organise urban lives. More crucially, they foreground the importance of rethinking the process of designing and producing data solutions, in terms of the plans and actions around data solutions; the social, collaborative and embodied space of the process; their financial, technical (software) and collaborative sustainability; and the membership and politics of care and design.
John Rooksby, Computer Science, Glasgow University
Mobile technologies for health and wellbeing range from free-to-download mobile apps such as My Fitness Pal and Map My Run, to premium hardware devices such as the Nike Fuelband and Jawbone UP. Although personal tracking is not new, it is now possible to automate much tracking and it is relatively simple to transfer and combine data between devices and to visualise and analyse it over the long term. Indeed, many companies are pursuing business models based upon the large scale collection of this data. In this talk I will point out that personal tracking is not necessarily akin to data science; people are not simply engaging in long-term, dispassionate, and individualistic data collection and analysis, but are 'dwelling in data'. I will discuss, using Ingold’s terms, what it is to 'be alive' with data (i.e. what it is to look forward with data): to train for a marathon, to try to lose or maintain weight, or to try to get better sleep. I will argue that the design challenges in this area are not limited to the collection of accurate and comprehensive information, and that good design may sometimes be contrary to this.
Up My Street: Data and its street life
Alex Taylor, Microsoft Cambridge, UK
[Big] Data is everywhere, and much of it says a lot about who we are. Everything from census data, and local statistics on crime and education to our shopping habits, and tweets and facebook likes are out there. Altogether, these data give others access to stuff that says a lot about who we are as both individuals and communities. Collected and aggregated, as big data, they offer a way of looking in from above or outside. What happens, though, when big data gets personal (and local)? How do those of us at ‘street level’ make sense of our own data, and what do we want to do with it? Does the data available online mean anything to us? Do we want to say something about ourselves and the places we live in using this data? Indeed, do we want to change how we present ourselves using data?
Up My Street, data and its street life is a project in the making in which we hope to investigate the relationships between people, their communities and data. By building and deploying a number of prototype data devices, our plan is to investigate how people and communities think and act with their data and what questions they have about it. In effect, we want to see what happens to big data when it becomes something we (at street level) can see, handle and work with. At the workshop I’ll report on where we are with this project, what’s worked, what hasn’t, and the ways that we are struggling through.
Jeanette Blomberg, Program manager for practice-based service innovation, IBM Almaden Research Center, San Jose, CA, USA
Jeanette Blomberg is Research Staff Member and Program manager for practice-based service innovation at IBM Research. Her research explores issues in the social aspects of technology production and use, ethnographically-informed organizational interventions, participatory design, and practice-based service innovation. Prior to assuming her current position, Jeanette was a member of the Work Practice and Technology group at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), Director of Experience Modeling research at Sapient Corporation, and Industry-affiliated Professor at the Blekinge Institute of Technology in Sweden. In 2011 Jeanette was awarded an honorary doctorate at the Blekinge Institute of Technology and currently sits on the Foresight Advisory Panel for IT University of Copenhagen and is an Adjunct Professor at Roskilde University in Denmark. Jeanette is well known for her research on ethnography in design processes with two recent publications from 2012 Positioning Ethnography within Participatory Design and form 2013 Reflections on 25 Years of Ethnography in CSCW. Jeanette’s current research explores social dimensions of the production and consumption of data analytics within the context of enterprise transformation, providing a critical assessment of the promise of data analytics. Jeanette received her Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of California, Davis and before embarking on her career in high tech she was a visiting professor and lecturer in cultural anthropology and sociolinguistics at the University of California, Davis.
Monika Buscher, mobilities.lab, Department of Sociology, Lancaster University, UK
The focus of my studies are everyday material and epistemic practices - on the move or in situ - including experiences and practices of place-making, distributed collaboration, collective intelligence. Consideration of post-human IT-ethics plays a major part in my work. My approach is ethnographic and analytically rooted in ethnomethodology, science and technology studies, mobilities research and phenomenology. My work critically informs participatory, interdisciplinary socio-technical innovation. I co-design socio-technical ubiquitous computing imaginaries and technologies in different settings (from art and architecture to emergency response). I am Director of mobilities.lab and edit the book series Changing Mobilities together wih Peter Adey.
Markus Bylund, , SICS Swedish ICT
Markus Bylund is a senior scientist at the Swedish Institute of Computer Science. Bylund holds a PhD (2005) in Computer and Systems Sciences from the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm, Sweden. He received both his MSc (1999) and PhLic (2001) from Uppsala University, Sweden, in part based on studies (1996-1997) from the University of Colorado at Boulder (CU), USA.
Franco Curmi, Computing, Lancaster University
Franco is a Ph.D. student at Lancaster University and a visiting lecturer at the University of Malta. He was awarded a Master in Creativity and Innovation from the University of Malta (2010) and a Master in Digital Innovation (2012) from Lancaster University both with distinction. Prior to this he held managing positions in technology companies where he provided services for clients including CNN, Pfizer, Sony and Philips. His current research looks into the design of innovation strategies for crowdsourcing social support. The work takes a human-computer interaction perspective and focuses on building communities around users that are conducting challenging tasks.
Daniel Heery, Cybermoor, http://www.cybermoor.org
Daniel established Cybermoor, the first rural broadband co-operative providing wireless first generation broadband to the community of Alston Moor in Cumbria. Daniel advises community organisations, the public and private sector on how the innovative use of technology can make a real difference to people’s lives. He has worked on projects to transform the delivery of public services by social enterprises using technology. Working with the NHS in Cumbria to develop e-health services highlighted some of the challenges around accessing public data to redesign services - it was challenging to access up to date information. Without access to accurate data, it is increasingly difficult for communities to shape the services they need, so Cybermoor has started to work on projects which increase access and take up of open data. Daniel is also a founder member of the Independent Networks Co-operative Association and has been a Social Enterprise Ambassador sponsored by the Cabinet Office. Daniel has a Degree and Masters in Town Planning from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne.
Michael Liegl, mobilities.lab, Centre for Mobilities Researc, Sociology, Lancaster University
My work focuses on the interplay of technology, spatial organization and social relations. In my Phd Digital Cornerville I studied the impact of ubiquitous computing, filesharing, and network technologies as well as the very notion of ‘network’ within the organization of an urban artistic community and its audio-visual practices. I especially focused on the layering and hybridization of online and offline collaboration. I further pursue this interest in hybrid spaces in studying the place making practices of digitally mobile creative freelancers and in location based social networks such as the GPS enabled smartphone dating app grindr. Currently, I work as a research associate in a work package on social, legal and ethical implications of IT supported emergency response in the Bridge project (Bridging resources and agencies in large-scale emergency management) http:/bridgeproject.eu/en.
Suvodeep Mazumdar, Computer Science, Sheffield University
My research concerns Human Computer Interaction and Information Visualisation applied in the context of Organisational Knowledge Management and Emergency Response. The focus of my work is to develop visual analytic solutions to assist knowledge workers gain quick insights into large multidimensional datasets. I employ iterative user-centered design techniques to prototype and develop the solutions, which are further evaluated by user communities.
Sung-Yueh Perng, Programmable City project, NUI Maynooth, Ireland
Sung-Yueh Perng is a Postdoctoral Researcher on the Programmable City project, exploring practices of incorporating codes and mobile technologies into everyday life in Dublin and Boston. I obtained my PhD from Sociology Department at Lancaster University on the topic of mobilities and changing everyday practices. Before joining NIRSA in 2013, I participated in the BRIDGE project, examining new opportunities and tension when incorporating citizens and social computing into emergency response. I was also a team member of an impact study of FutureEverything on how digital and locative arts challenges and changes Manchester and event participants.
John Rooksby, Computer Science, University of Glasgow
John Rooksby is a senior researcher in computing science at the University of Glasgow. He is currently working on the EPSRC research programme “A Population Approach to UbiComp System Design” (www.softwarepopulations.com) and the EU project “EuroFit: Social Innovation to Improve Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour through Elite European Football” (http://eurofitfp7.eu/). His research interests are at the intersection of computer science, sociology and design.
Jen Southern, Lancaster Institute of Contemporary Arts, Lancaster University, UK
Jen Southern is an artist and Lecturer in LICA at Lancaster University, where she is affiliated to the Centre for Mobilities Research (CeMoRe) and mobilities lab. Her recent fieldwork has taken her out walking with ramblers groups and footpath societies, on a flight with a flying instructor, and to meet a researcher who uses GPS to track reindeer. Her art practice is collaborative, process based and participatory, working with audiences to explore movement and sense of place through mobile technologies and locative media. She works across the disciplines of participatory art, sociology and mobile application design, and has contributed to international projects and workshops funded by NESTA, BBC, Arts Council England and Sagasnet.
Alex Taylor, Microsoft Research, Cambridge, UK
As a sociologist at Microsoft Research, I've undertaken investigations into a range of routine aspects of everyday life - with a particular emphasis on life at home. For instance, I've shown what some might describe as an unhealthy preoccupation with hoarding, dirt, clutter and similar seemingly banal subject matter. Most recently, I have begun obsessing over the entanglements of computation and social life. My studies in this realm have taken me from the intelligence found in robots and other curious ‘thinking’ machines, to DIYbio and more broadly the role of algorithms in the sciences. Much of this work has been considered alongside the design of computing technology. Rather than informing design directly, however, I've sought with varying success to open up the possibilities for different and hopefully new ways of interacting with technology. A further aim has been to reflect on the ever emergent relations between humans and machines, and to wonder what the unceasing developments in science and technology might mean for being human. In all, my work amounts to a struggling through, not to produce definitive answers, but, with an eye for the troubles, and hopefully finding along the way some productive questions.
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