What does a Critical Data Studies look like, and why do we care? Seven points for a critical approach to ‘Big Data’

From co-authors Craig Dalton and Jim Thatcher

How do we approach ‘big data’ critically?  What is to be done with ‘big data’?

There is a need for a critical data studies

As the public discourse around data turns from hubristic claims to existing, empirical results, it’s become nearly as easy to bash ‘big data’ as to hype it (Carr 2014; Marcus and Davis 2014; Harford 2014; Podesta 2014). Geographers are intimately involved with this recent rise of data. Most digital information now contains some spatial component (Hahmann and Burghardt 2013) and geographers are contributing tools (Haklay and Weber 2008), maps (Zook and Poorthius 2014), and methods (Tsou et al. 2014) to the rising tide of quantification. Critiques of ‘big data’ thus far offer keen insight and acerbic wit, but remain piecemeal and disconnected. ‘Big data’s’ successes or failures as a tool are judged (K.N.C. 2014), or it is examined from a specific perspective, such as its role in surveillance (Crampton et al. 2014). Recently, voices in critical geography have raised the call for a systemic approach to data criticisms, a critical data studies (Dalton and Thatcher 2014; Graham 2014; Kitchin 2014). This post presents seven key provocations we see as drivers of a comprehensive critique of the new regimes of data, ‘big’ or not. We focus on why a critical approach is needed, what it may offer, and some idea of what it could look like.

The rest is over at the Society and Space open site (from Environment and Planning D)

critical_data_studies

A Call to Action in Support of the Zapatistas

Join 3Cs in signing the call here and find out about events near you.

SUMMARY OF RECENT EVENTS:

On May 2, 2014, in the Zapatista territory of La Realidad, Chiapas, Mexico, the group CIOAC-Histórica [with the participation of the Green Ecological Party and the National Action Party (PAN)], planned and executed a paramilitary attack on unarmed Zapatista civilians. An autonomous Zapatista school and clinic was destroyed, 15 people were ambushed and injured and Jose Luis Solis Lopez (Galeano), teacher at the Zapatista Little School, was murdered. The mainstream media is falsely reporting this attack on the Zapatistas as an intra-community confrontation, but in fact this attack is the result of a long-term counterinsurgency strategy promoted by the Mexican government.

Given the experience of the 1997 massacre at Acteal, we are concerned about the mounting paramilitary activity against Zapatista bases of support. It is clear that if we do not take action now, the current situation in Chiapas may also lead to an even more tragic end.
Continue reading

Mapping Duke – Class Activity

3Cs was invited to guest lecture/prepare a mapping activity for the Comparative Approaches to Global Issues course at Duke in April. After lecturing about countermapping in general and going over how to use some simple web mapping tools, students were divided into groups to research specific questions about Duke and make their own maps. Read more about the activity we prepared and see pictures below!

Where is Duke? While Duke’s campus may seem to have clearly delimited spatial boundaries, Duke’s influence extends well beyond these limits: Duke’s students and employees live throughout Durham with consequent effects on the urban landscape, students travel, volunteer and study abroad around the world, Duke partners with a wide range of businesses taking part in different commodity chains.

This activity is designed to explore and map out the different practices and institutions that make up Duke and Duke’s connections and effects on its local as well as global surroundings. There are seven themes each addressing a specific aspect of these overarching questions. Each group will be assigned one of these themes and will be responsible for gathering data on their topic by using all or some of the research methodologies described in detail under each theme.
Continue reading

Collective Mapping Workshop at UNC

As part of Radical Rush Week, join 3Cs to collectively map the university. Monday, Sept. 2. 5-7pm in the Pit.

We’ll be constructing a collective counter-map of the university, exploring issues of labor and precarity on campus, the role the university plays in processes of gentrification and wealth extraction, and the university’s relation to flows of information, capital, and people, as well as trying to collectively imagine what other universities are possible.

weekscheduletabloidexperiment

And check out the Radical Rush Disorientation Guide!

Mashing-up Maps: Google Geo Services and the Geography of Ubiquity

A dissertation by Craig Dalton under the direction of Scott Kirsch.

(also available at:  http://gradworks.umi.com/3526116.pdf)

How are Google geo services such as Google Maps and Google Earth shaping ways of seeing the world?  These geographic ways of seeing are part of an influential and problematic geographic discourse.  This discourse reaches hundreds of millions of people, though not all have equal standing.  It empowers many people to make maps on the geoweb, but within the limits of Google’s business strategy.  These qualities, set against the state-centeredness of mapmaking over the last six hundred years, mark the Google geo discourse as something noteworthy, a consumer-centered mapping in a popular geographic discourse.  This dissertation examines the Google geo discourse through its social and technological history, Google’s role in producing and limiting the discourse, and the subjects who make and use these maps.

3Cs presents at Hemi GSI 2012

Liz and Tim gave a talk this Saturday as part of a panel on “Geopolitics of Reimagination: Art, Media, and Social Movements” at the Hemispheric Institute’s 2012 Graduate Student Initiative convergence. See below to click through to the PDF of our presentation, which talked about some of the relationships between mapping and militant research and showed some of our work.

3Cs Presentation at Hemi GSI Convergence Nov 2012

Mapping Shared Imaginaries for Anti-capitalist Movements: an Interview with Tim Stallmann of the Counter-Cartographies Collective

Tim interviewed by Class War University
Originally published here

Summary:  Tim shares his experiences of militant research with university workers and students, making disOrientation Guides, and the importance of starting from your own position for building solidarity.  Reflecting on the Queen Mary Counter/mapping project and community-based cartography, he discusses the challenges of map-making collectively, as well as the benefits of the process for building a plane of commonality for struggles.  Against the individualizing and recuperative functions of academia, he shares some thoughts on how we can better traverse the tensions our movements face across the boundaries of universities and communities.

Continue reading

Convergence 2012: The Geo/Body Politics of Emancipation

3Cs will be participating in the Hemispheric Institute Convergence in November. Deadline to apply to a working group is July 1!

Call For Participation

The year 2011 marked an explosion of radical mobilization, from student protests and occupations to uprisings and insurrections. These events were characterized by the embodied reclaiming of public space, demands for economic, social, and political change, and instrumentalization of technology to communicate, organize, and revolt. As these political struggles spread globally, artists, activists, and scholars have engaged and responded to these actions by generating militant research practices, radical art gestures, and networked communities.

The Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics Graduate Student Initiative invites graduate students from the humanities, arts, and social sciences to come together for our Convergence 2012 to discuss contemporary notions of emancipation, liberation, revolution, occupation, geopolitics, “artivism,” and militant research, and to consider the lived tensions of these concepts in bodies, knowledge, and locations.
In the spirit of the Hemispheric Institute Encuentros, Convergence 2012 intends to bring together about 100 participants to generate a space of intensive connections between scholarship, artistic expression, and politics, promoting embodied practices — performance — as a vehicle for the creation of new meaning and the transmission of cultural values, memory and identity. During the three days of Convergence 2012, we aim to explore new political potentials for emancipation, liberation, and revolution.

Invited Speakers and Artists include: Andy Bichlbaum (The Yes Men), Colectivo Situaciones (Argentina), Counter-Cartographies Collective (Durham NC), Ricardo Dominguez (UCSD), Esther Gabara (Duke University), Macarena Gómez-Barris (USC), Jack Halberstam (USC), Michael Hardt (Duke University), Brian Holmes (activist), Josh Kun (USC), Pedro Lasch (Duke University), Diane Nelson (Duke University), Walter Mignolo (Duke University), Spirithouse (Durham NC), Diana Taylor (NYU), and Wu Tsang (performer/filmmaker)

SOS gets a 2012 Indy Citizen Award

Over the past two years, members of 3Cs have worked with the Sustaining OurSelves Coalition through mapping workshops to help SOS use maps to fight rising gentrification in the Northside neighborhood of Chapel Hill. We’re so proud that SOS was awarded a 2012 Indy Citizen Award this week!

“SOS, with the help of the Counter-Cartographies Collective, learned new software and mapped the change in single-family owned to investor-owned properties, the number of at-risk properties, those owned by elderly families and others that were already on the market.

The data showed that among 26 building permit applications approved in the past year, an investor submitted all but one. Single-family homes were 45 percent investor owned, a three-fold increase in the last decade. Forty more were “at-risk,” meaning for sale, in transition or owned by residents older than 75.

The maps showed the rapid shift residents were describing, but they also illustrated that there was still a family neighborhood left to save. The maps drew a collective gasp when they were presented at Town Hall.

More at: http://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/sustaining-ourselves/Content?oid=2743771