talk at Oxford Internet Institute, January 26

On January 26 I gave a talk at the Oxford Internet Institute. I was asked to contribute a reflection on big data and development. The talk, entitled Big data, data activism, and the global civil society was the first of the OII ICT4D series for this academic year. You can check out the webcast, and read the abstract below.

Big data, data activism, and the global civil society. This talk uses the lenses of data activism to take a critical approach to civil society's engagement with big data. Data activism indicates those grassroots mobilisations taking a critical stance towards massive data collection. It takes two forms: pro-active data activism, whereby citizens appropriate data and data narratives to foster social change, and re-active data activism, by which people resist and subvert massive data collection by means of technical fixes. Data activism allows us to reflect on anti-hegemonic data politics, a mix of transformative technical practice and sociopolitical imagination. Anti-hegemonic data politics facilitates the emergence within the organised civil society of a) new (data) epistemologies as a critical approach to the politics of representation; b) new rhizomes connecting distinct social actors with complementary skills, and characterised by specific ethical visions; c) new emancipatory sociotechnical practices based on first-person hands-on engagement with software and data, and d) a new vocabulary to talk about data and social change, as a crucial step towards a grassroots, transformative engagement with big data