How to study bots, which make up almost 15 per cent of Twitter users, are responsible for more than 60 per cent of internet traffic and determine political elections? What happens to scientific knowledge making and theory in the age of big data? How (im)material are data labours? This seminar aims to collectively assemble a repertoire of concepts and analytical tools for critically engaging with data practices, data labours and data infrastructures. It’s based on close reading and discussion of selected texts including Geoffrey Bowker and Susan Leigh Star’s Sorting Things Out (2000), Paul Edwards A Vast Machine (2010) and Sareeta Amrute’s Encoding Race, Encoding Class (2016) as well as recent texts on the epistemic, political and methodological challenges of big data, automation and algorithms. These will be juxtaposed with more popular accounts on the issues (e.g. Wired, Public Library of Science, Model View Culture) and relevant art and activist projects on data matters.
Please prepare text excerpts for each session and upload them to Moodle by Tuesday, 9:00am. Each excerpt should contain a brief summary of the text’s key arguments (50%) as well as questions, thoughts, gripes and suggestions for debate (50%). Thanks.