Doing Good with Data: Alternative Practices, Elephants in Rooms

December 07, 2016 by Helen Kennedy

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Kennedy considers whether social media (and other) data mining can be used in ways that make a positive contribution to social life by focusing on two fields in which actors might think of themselves as ‘doing good with data’: (1) academic social media data mining and (2) data activism, such as open data initiatives, data art and data visualisation, campaigns for better data legislation and movements which seek to evade dataveillance. These groups seek to implement data-related arrangements which enable citizens and publics. Kennedy outlines some of the criticisms that have been levelled at academic and activist data initiatives and argues that, while there are ways in which they can both be considered problematic, they are not only problematic: they also serve to open up spaces for alternative and better uses of (social media) data mining.