[SIGCIS-Members] Call for Abstracts - Lives of Data Workshop, Sarai-CSDS (Deadline: 15 Sept.)

Sandeep Mertia sandeepmertia at gmail.com
Sat Jul 23 03:10:15 PDT 2016

*Call for Abstracts -** ‘Lives of Data’ Workshop, 06-07 January 2017, The
Sarai Programme, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS),
Delhi. *

‘Data’ has been recently termed as the new oil, new soil, new world
currency and the raw material for the new industrial revolution. It has
been hypothesised that the era of Big Data will finally see the ‘end of
theory <http://www.wired.com/2008/06/pb-theory/>’. This hyperbole has it
that the new technologies being developed today can produce truth based on
computations of large amounts of machine readable digital data. Beyond such
deterministic claims, the ‘Data Revolution’ indeed poses compelling
theoretical and methodological challenges in all fields with stakes in
knowledge. The present conjuncture, we would argue, is loaded with
possibilities for rethinking ‘data-driven knowledge’ through longer
histories of classification, enumeration, quantification, techno-scientific
practices, and forms of media storage, retrieval, computational analysis
and use.

Scholarship in the emerging field of data studies has established close
connections with science & technology studies (STS), and media and software
studies. There is now a growing body of work <http://bds.sagepub.com/>
which questions the Big Data hubris and the excesses of the post Web 2.0
digital deluge. ‘Raw Data’, as Geoffrey Bowker and Lisa Gitelman among
others have suggested, is an ‘oxymoron’. In the Indian context, concerns
about statistics, governance and knowledge, evident in the histories of
colonial census, the work of P C Mahalanobis at the Indian Statistical
Institute and the Planning Commission, the emergence of scientific
computing in the 1950s-60s, government regulation of media, electronics and
telecom, provide a vivid background to think about the new technics,
materiality and aesthetics of our digital cultures.

In times when Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) have passed
their initial developmental hype-cycles and mobile phones have somewhat
flattened the so-called ‘digital divides’ (while creating many new ones),
the fields of information research in India are grappling with
socio-technical reconfigurations of a widening scope and scale. The
projections and contestations around our much promoted march towards a
#DigitalIndia <http://www.digitalindia.gov.in/> with the world’s largest
biometric database (#Aadhaar <https://uidai.gov.in/>); a nation-wide
digging campaign for broadband connectivity in villages and the building of
one hundred #SmartCities <http://smartcities.gov.in/>; and the intense
pursuit of the ‘Next Billion’ users by a floating array of large technology
companies and startups (#FreeBasics <https://0.freebasics.com/desktop>,
#StartupIndia <http://startupindia.gov.in/>); have inundated the space for
reflection and critique. The many known and unknown lives and after-lives
of data in this ecosystem of flux demand description, interpretation,
concepts, and – if the data permits – theory.

In the past Sarai has organised workshops on ‘Social & Cultural Lives of
and the ‘Lives of Information’ <http://sarai.net/lives-of-information/>, to
reflect upon the cultures of information practices and the connections
between colonial and post-colonial information infrastructures in South
Asia. Continuing our focus on contemporary realities, ICTs and
infrastructures, the ‘Lives of Data’ workshop aims to encourage research on
pertinent questions concerning ‘data’ – its imaginaries, infrastructures,
knowledge politics, and techno-science and media cultures in India and
South Asia.

The ‘Lives of Data’ workshop hopes to bring together interdisciplinary
researchers and practitioners to examine the historical and emergent
conditions of data-driven knowledge production and circulation in Indian
and South Asian contexts. We are interested in a conversation which
dynamically moves back and forth in science, technology and media history
and anthropology to reflect upon the many layered abstractions and
materialisations of data, information and knowledge.

The key questions which the workshop will explore are:

– What is data? How is it imagined, collected, archived, developed,
scraped, parsed, mined, cleaned, used, interpreted, re-produced, circulated
and deleted?
– How do we map the relationships between data, infrastructure and
knowledge production?
– How do we reimagine data and information through longer histories of
statistics, bureaucracy, governmentality and development?
– What are the stakes involved in analysing the ever increasing volume,
velocity, variety and value of data? How do practitioners understand the
changing nature of their work with data?
– How do we conceptualise the new data publics?

Workshop themes include:

– Histories of State and Statistics, Classification, Enumeration and
– Data Analytics, Data Ontologies, Digital Objects
– Digital Humanities, Computational Social Sciences, Cultural Analytics
– Cultures of Software Engineering and Design
– Data, Memory and Materiality: Archives, Paper/Digital Databases,
Warehouses, Data Centres, Server Farms
– Thinking through Digital Infrastructures: Hardware, Code, Meta-Data,
Formats, Protocols, Programming Languages, Information Architectures,
Algorithms, Apps, Interfaces, Platforms, APIs, etc.
– Data-Driven Urbanism: Geographies of Mobile Computing, Locative Apps and
Social Media, GIS, and Smart Cities
– Openness, Transparency and Access to Data/Information/Knowledge. #RTI
#OpenData #DNAProfiling #Copyright #Encryption #Privacy
– Platforms as Government: Transnational Networks of Intermediaries and the
Flows of Data/Capital
– ‘SysAdmin <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/System_administrator>’ like the
State: Bio-Politics, Surveillance, User/Citizen, Governance, Policing and
Law. #Aadhaar #ITact #CyberSecurity
– ‘Beautiful Data <https://www.dukeupress.edu/beautiful-data>’: Design,
Aesthetics, Vision and Visualisation

*The Sarai Programme invites submission of abstracts for the ‘Lives of
Data’ workshop. Besides academic researchers, we strongly encourage media,
design and software practitioners to apply for the workshop. Abstracts
should not exceed 300 words, and should be sent to dak at sarai.net
<dak at sarai.net> by 15 September, 2016, with the subject heading ‘Proposal
for the Lives of Data Workshop.’ Authors of the selected abstracts will be
notified by 01 October, 2016.*

*The workshop will be held on 06-07 January, 2017 at Sarai-CSDS, 29 Rajpur
Road, Delhi. The Sarai Programme will cover three days of accommodation for
outstation participants. In addition, participants from India will be
eligible for travel support.*

URL: http://sarai.net/call-for-abstracts-lives-of-data-workshop/


Sandeep Mertia,

Research Associate,
Sarai-CSDS, Delhi
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