Lecture by Lindsay Poirier on “Juking the Stats: Ethnographies of Disclosure Data Sets”

Join us this Thursday, July 6th, from 16-18 hrs (German time) for the last RUSTLab lecture of this summer term. Lindsay Poirier will present her work on “Juking the Stats: Ethnographies of Disclousure Data Sets”.

Abstract: In this talk, I piece together the socio-political provenance of a series of public interest datasets. I treat datasets, not as neutral repositories for holding information, but instead as cultural artifacts – as material manifestations of human labor and organizational incentives, along with shifting political regimes and cultural terrains. Conceptually, I ask: What social forces animate the ways that quantitative representations materialize in a dataset? Methodologically, I ask: How can we perceive specters of social advocacy in a dataset’s material form? Can we make out stories of social advocacy in the interstices of the rows and columns of a data frame? Normatively, I ask: When and how should this frame public trust in data? As I unpack these questions, I argue that we can more productively consider what makes a dataset trustworthy when we displace efforts to suss out bias with efforts to trace and evaluate the diverse modes of social advocacy shaping data representations.

Lindsay Poirier is a cultural anthropologist who focuses on data advocacy, governance, and infrastructure. She currently holds the position of Assistant Professor of Statistics and Data Sciences at Smith College, Massachusetts. In her research, she investigates how knowledge claims about contemporary issues are produced from data and critically examines the social contexts that shape the meaning of public interest datasets, particularly those that document social and environmental injustices in the United States. She employs both cultural analysis and exploratory data analysis, drawing from various fields such as critical data studies, information studies, digital humanities, and data science. She is also the lead platform architect for the Platform for Experimental Collaborative Ethnography (PECE) – an open source digital humanities platform that supports several international research projects. Through this work, she is engaged in international efforts to advance interdisciplinary data sharing.

Location: on campus (Universitätsstr. 104, 2nd floor, 44799 Bochum) and Zoom
Zoom Link

You will find additional resources and information on this term’s guiding theme Infrastructuring Indeterminacies here on our website.