PODCAST: In data we trust – Media in the age of the datalogical

Several key global events, especially within the political arena, have centered public interest on the role that data plays within contemporary society. Commercial media outlets obsess over data analytics in the face of falling revenues; global digital intermediaries are delivering content using algorithms that are obscure to human oversight; and social media platforms are becoming media powerhouses outside of regulation. Some public commentators recognise this as a process of ‘un-democratization’ as data and algorithms are impacting on society’s ability to make informed decisions. While this may be a reactive stance towards our latest technological turn, it is undoubtable that we are, to at least some extent, delegating our decision-making power to automatic systems and that this will have an impact on social and political life.

One emerging approach within computational computer science that is attracting attention, for example, is the combination of ethnography with digital media methods, but interpretive methodological work is being pursued by researchers in a variety of fields: from media studies to cultural studies, history to cognitive and behavioral science. In Data We Trust is a seminar designed to explore the contemporary issues surrounding the implications of datafication, and how best to research it. What are the sites in which data logics and techniques crystallize? Should the starting point be to study the algorithm and then follow the socio-technical relations that result from it? Or should we start from the people and practices that ultimately determine data’s usefulness? Discussing a variety of approaches that are currently being used to study cultures and societies that are heavily mediated by data systems, this workshop aims to encourage discussions about methods for consolidating approaches.

This seminar is presented by a number of leading experts across two brief panels. The speakers include:

Session 1: Themes – Jonathon Hutchinson, University of Sydney
Penny O’Donnell, University of Sydney
Martin Egan, Manager of News Innovation, ABC
Nick Enfield, University of Sydney

Session 2: Methods – Heather Ford, University of Leeds
Fiona Martin, University of Sydney
David Nolan, University of Melbourne
Heather Horst, University of Sydney
Jason Ensor, Western Sydney University