Data Justice Lab Seminar with Dr Anna Feigenbaum

We are delighted to welcome Dr Anna Feigenbaum (Bournemouth University) to the Data Justice Lab at Cardiff University. Anna will give a talk on uses of data in social justice research in relation to her new book Tear Gas published by Verso. The talk will take place on Wednesday 29th of November at 4pm in Bute Building, room 0.05. The talk is free and open to all. Further details about the talk and Anna below.

From Scraping to Storytelling: Dealing with Data in Social Justice Research

Drawing from my experience founding the Bournemouth University-based, Civic Media Hub and Datalab project, in this reflective research presentation I highlight challenges and opportunities that come with practices of data storytelling for social justice. Specifically, I reflect on data gathering, the ethics of data visualization, and the problem of data distortion, particularly when working with sensitive issues and vulnerable populations.

While the rise of big and open data diversifies the kinds of stories we can tell with numbers, sensitive subjects often have no straightforward data source, documents are scattered across agencies and organisations, or are kept hidden. This ‘uneven transparency’ raises important questions about the duty to document (Larsen 2014), particularly in regard to vulnerable populations (prisoners, detainees, those living in conflict zones).

In relation to data visualization, recent years have seen an increasing popularity of the use of infographics, maps and other media interactives. At the same time, giving visual narrative to numbers comes with risks and ethical issues that researchers must address, including the statistical and graphic representation of people’s lives and deaths.

Linked to these challenges of access to data and its representation, perhaps the biggest challenges in data-driven storytelling is data distortion. In every stage of the data storytelling process, from gathering information to circulating a visualisation on social media, distortion can come into play. For this reason we believe that transparency around data storytelling processes and data sources is at the heart of data storytelling for social justice.

Dr. Anna Feigenbaum is the author of  Protest Camps (Zed 2013), Tear Gas (Verso 2017) and the forthcoming Data Storytelling Workbook with Minute Works design studio (Routledge 2019). She is a Principal Academic in Digital Storytelling at Bournemouth University where she is the PI and founder of the BU Civic Media Hub and Datalabs project. Established in 2014, this project was designed to bring together a multidisciplinary, cross-Faculty team of academics and students from Communications, Geography and Data Science to work in collaboration with Journalists, NGOs and digital designers to co-create effective ways of engaging sensitive social issues through data analysis and communications. Through continued workshops and public events, our team engages in a participatory approach to data storytelling that combines principles of design, narrative theory, scaffolded technology learning and hacklab style collaborations. Read more at: http://www.civicmedia.io/

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