ECREA Digital Culture and Communication Section Conference.
6th–7th November 2017, University of Brighton, UK
- Rob Kitchin, Maynooth University, Republic of Ireland
- Helen Thornham, University of Leeds, UK
Algorithms and big data are today shaping our sociocultural and technical relations and our everyday experiences. Digital culture and communication are inevitably changing as media infrastructures, media practices and social environments become increasingly ‘datafied’. We may think of surveillance, algorithmic profiling and self-tracking for example. Wearable technologies such as fitness trackers allow people to understand the body as a data-producing object. Our use of commonplace media technologies is mediated by data in ways that we do not ask for, nor even necessarily know about or consent to. Data interpellate us. Yet data are obscure and enigmatic.
But what does this turn to data mean for our research, scholarship and pedagogic practice? Has the data paradigm arrived as an unquestionable unifying concept for studies of digital culture and digital media, communication, technology? It may be that a shift of focus on algorithms and data is fundamentally disruptive to the ways in which we see our research and disciplines. It may even appear to limit the theoretical and methodological tools through which we increasingly try to understand mediation, the formation of identity, social life, politics and the creative industries. To others, the ‘datalogical turn’ may be plainly repeating the processes of earlier instances of technological innovation. And for some, it may provide an opportunity to frame new theoretical concepts and methodological tools for a whole new set of social, cultural and political phenomena.
The ECREA DCC Conference “Digital Culture meets data: Critical approaches” asks the question: what theoretical and empirical perspectives on data and the digital can be used to augment and diversify our research and educational approaches? And how might we challenge data paradigms or aim to show alternative or complementary ways to address digital culture and communication?