[Sigmetrics] Call for Abstracts: Lives of Data Workshop | 6-7 January 2017 | at CSDS, Delhi, India

anup kumar das anupdas2072 at gmail.com
Wed Jul 20 04:15:23 EDT 2016

[Apologies for cross postings]
*Lives of Data Workshop*
*6-7 January 2017*
*at Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), Delhi, India*

*Call for Abstracts*
'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'. 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 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 with the world's largest biometric database (#Aadhaar); a
nation-wide digging campaign for broadband connectivity in villages and the
building of one hundred #SmartCities; and the intense pursuit of the 'Next
Billion' users by a floating array of large technology companies and
startups (#FreeBasics, #StartupIndia); 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
Information' and the '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' like the State: Bio-Politics, Surveillance, User/Citizen,
Governance, Policing and Law. #Aadhaar #ITact #CyberSecurity
– '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 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.

*Further Details*
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