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MUSTS Colloquium with Evelyn Ruppert: An Experiment in Citizen Data
March 28, 2018 @ 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
Many, if not most, big data are connected to the lives of citizens: their movements, opinions, and relations. Arguably data and citizens are inseparable: from smartphones, meters, fridges and cars to internet platforms, the data of digital technologies is the data of citizens. I explore the politics of this attachment between digital technologies, data and citizens through an account of an experiment in the design of a ‘citizen data app’ that speculates on alternatives for generating statistics for research and governing. Experimenting is understood as a method of opening technological expertise to other actors, exploring alternative problem formulations and futures, transcending ingrained ways of thinking, disrupting power relations and critically examining practices through which data comes into being. In these ways, the experiment in a citizen data app conceives of data and statistics as social technologies and matters of democratic debate and deliberation where citizens are active in making knowledge about societies of which they are a part.
Evelyn Ruppert is Professor of Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London. She studies how digital technologies and the data they generate can powerfully shape and have consequences for how people are known and governed and how they understand themselves as political subjects, that is, citizens with rights to data. Evelyn is PI of an ERC funded project, Peopling Europe: How data make a people (ARITHMUS; 2014-19). She is Founding and Editor-in-Chief of the SAGE open access journal, Big Data & Society. Recent books are Being Digital Citizens (co-authored with Engin Isin) published in 2015 and Modes of Knowing (co-edited with John Law) published in 2016. She currently holds a Van Doorn Chair and Fellowship at the Department of Social Sciences and Public Administration, Erasmus University Rotterdam and Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (NIAS).