The Condition of Data (1)

Our emerging project definition of ‘big data’ is data that is incrementally larger than anything people have had to deal with before, in a given field.
— Lynette Taylor (2013) “Big Data in the Developing World”

 “Raw Data” is both an oxymoron and a bad idea.
— Geoffrey C. Bowker, Memory practices in the Sciences

 A simple twitter search for the #data hashtag today will provide the user with a real-time glimpse of the evolving nature of data and its social ramifications. “Big”, “semantic”, “open” and “mobile”, are only some of the conditions of data today.  After interacting with these terms, it quickly becomes clear that data does not appear to be neutral nor natural and that, as a cultural construct, the study of data requires new critical approaches to chart and explore its human and social implications.

In this sense, the book “Raw Data” is an Oxymoron (2013) recently published by MIT Press and edited by Lisa Gitelman — Professor of English and Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University — could not be more timely. The book contains “eight episodes in the history of data” by a number of renowned scholars concerned not only with the digital, but also the pre-digital condition of data. The introduction to the book, written by Gitelman and Virginia Jackson recognizes that “the new millenium has arrived as the era of Big Data”, and that there is “a seismic shift in the contemporary conception and use — the sheer existence — of so much data” (2). This new era requires critical explorations on the generation, protection and interpretation of data (12).

— View full post here.


UN Global Pulse: HunchWorks

UN Global Pulse presents “HunchWorks,” a system designed to detect and mitigate emerging global crises before they occur by sharing relevant and timely data across trusted networks (

The user experience design firm, Adaptive Path, helped Global Pulse work through the messy human challenges of the HunchWorks experience, including establishing trust with the system and fostering a community of experts with complementary skills.

The talk was delivered at the O’Reilly Strata Conference (New York City, September 23, 2011).

Chris van der Walt (UN Global Pulse)
Dane Petersen (Adaptive Path)
Sara Farmer (UN Global Pulse)

Arts, Culture and Technology: The political/policy link

[Abstract in English]  [Sumilla en Español]

Arts, Culture and Technology: The political/policy link

Open session by Mauricio Delfin

The intersection between arts, culture and technology can sometimes be very abstract, and other times too concrete. Generally, the most popular link connecting all notions is one found in media and electronic arts. Other times, this link is perceived at a very functional level, in terms of how new technologies (Web 2.0, etc.) can allow us to manage our arts projects more efficiently. However, little attention is paid to the role new technologies have in the democratization of arts and cultural policies, through the constitution of new and expanded citizenships, based on new ideals of greater transparency achieved through technological means, increased communication between authorities and citizens, “open data” protocols and the generation of mechanisms to achieve effective civic consultation on cultural issues. Technology and culture should also be understood as a creative and political intersection. Politicizing technology and its potential uses in the arts and cultural policy realm is important, as it stops technology from becoming a common-sense issue and a fashionable term, rendering this intersection as a critical horizon for social intervention.

Artes, Cultura y Tecnología: El vínculo con las políticas/con lo político
Sesión abierta a cargo de Mauricio Delfin

A veces la intersección entre las artes, cultura y tecnología puede ser muy abstracta y otras veces demasiado concreta. Generalmente, el vínculo que conecta a todas estas ideas suele verse reflejado en las artes electrónicas/mediales. Otras veces, el vínculo se percibe a un nivel muy funcional, en términos de cómo algunas nuevas tecnologías (Web 2.0) nos pueden ayudar a gestionar nuestros proyectos más eficientemente. Sin embargo, se presta poca atención al rol que las nuevas tecnologías pueden jugar en la democratización de las artes y las políticas culturales, a través de la construcción de ciudadanías nuevas y expandidas, basadas en ideales de mayor transparencia lograda a través de medios tecnológicos, mayor comunicación entre autoridades y ciudadanos, protocolos de datos abiertos (open data) y la generación de mecanismos para lograr la consulta ciudadana efectiva sobre asuntos culturales. Tecnología y cultura deben ser entendidas como una intersección creativa y política. Politizar la tecnología y su uso potencial en las artes y el campo de las políticas culturales es importante, pues evita que la tecnología se convierta en un asunto de sentido común y un tema “de moda”, convirtiendo a esta intersección en un horizonte crítico para la intervención social.

* Diapositivas en inglés.

October 5th, 2011 | Open Session:
“Arts, Culture and Technology: the policy/political link”

5th World Summit on Arts and Culture
Theme: “Creative Interscctions”
Melbourne, Australia
View all Summit presentations here.