Cfp_Data publics

CALL FOR ABSTRACTS AND EXHIBITS. Data Publics — Investigating the formation and representation of crowds, groups and clusters in digital economies. Lancaster University, March 31 / April 1 & 2, 2017. The deadline is January 22nd.

Keynote speakers: John Bowers (Newcastle University), Helen Kennedy (The University of Sheffield), Michiel de Lange (Utrecht University), Anders Koed Madsen (Aalborg University), Noortje Marres (University of Warwick), Alex Taylor (Microsoft Research)

“Those indirectly and seriously affected for good or evil form a group distinctive enough to require recognition and name. The name selected is The Public” (John Dewey, 1927).

There is a tension between how “publics” form spontaneously (for example in response to economic hardship, to create support groups, to protest about particular matters of concern) and how online users with similar consumption, browsing, movement patterns become grouped and acted upon as units of data, whether by organisations, researchers, or others. When people collectively and publicly self-organise to form a group, the identity of participants as well as the collective grouping itself may be apparent to all involved. However, with the rise, across a range of fields of digital and algorithmic technologies that work by segmenting people according to shared sets of interests, objectives, behavioural traits, and/or political persuasions, these processes as well as the identities of participants tends to be invisible to those involved. In the latter, it is only when these acts of ‘assigned’ collectivisation are exposed, perhaps deliberately (e.g. when confronting published research), perhaps unexpectedly (e.g. via data hacks/leaks), or perhaps when group self-recognition is achieved by users (e.g. via transparency apps/tools, social media, activism, freedom of information requests), that those involved begin to recognise their status as a “public”.

This conference will investigate the diverse ways in which publics are, and can be, constituted, provoked, threatened, understood, and represented. This includes examining the role played in the formation of publics by new on- and offline infrastructures, data visualisations, social and economic practices, research methods and creative practices, and emerging and future technologies. Specifically, the event will facilitate cross-cutting conversations between designers, social scientists and creative technologists to explore the new challenges and opportunities afforded by thinking and working with “Data Publics”.

This conference will be inherently interdisciplinary and as such we seek contributions from researchers within the areas of social science, design, new media art, data visualisation, and human-computer interaction. It will take place over three days, and will comprise a combination of hands-on workshops, paper presentations and an exhibition of work.

Day one will provide hands-on introductions to key methods for investigating data publics, involving two workshops running in parallel. One workshop – ‘Digital Methods/Data Visualisation’, led by David Moats – will introduce the digital methods and data visualisation approaches that can be used to conduct research in this field. The other – ‘Strategies, Tools and Participatory Processes’, led by Clara Crivellaro – will explore the practicalities of using design strategies, tools and participatory socio-technical processes to support the emergence and formation of publics. The day will end with participants from the two workshops entering into dialogue.

Following the workshops, the next two days will feature a mixture of academic paper presentations and exhibits from participants, with a focus throughout on the way a diverse array of methods, analytical approaches, representational techniques and practical engagements might be related to one another, put in conversation and combined. Participants are warmly invited to presents digital artefacts, data-visualisations or performances alongside their academic work or as stand-alone pieces that explore the topic of data-publics.

For participation in the conference, we seek two forms of contributions: full papers and works to exhibit.


We seek either (a) abstracts for papers or (b) descriptions of exhibits that each engage with the formation, relevance, and effects of “Data Publics”.

We invite contributions from professionals, scholars, designers, artists, activists, and those in other related fields, working in areas including but not limited to sociology, anthropology, geography, digital methods, interaction design, data visualisation, human-computer interaction, and art.

The deadline for submission is January 22nd, 2017.

Contributions should address at least one of the following three themes:

  1. Digital Economies / The Effects of Data Publics
  • What are the social, economic, ethical (and other) implications of emerging and future data publics?
    ●     How are data-oriented publics constituted, including in relation to digital economies?
    ●     Through which registers of everyday experience (e.g. as associated with making financial decisions, seeking emotional support, campaigning for change) do individuals participate in such publics?
  1. Emergence and Complexity / The Behaviours of Data Publics
  • How do different conditions (e.g. social, technological, affective) impact the emergence of data-oriented publics?
    ●     What new design paradigms are enabled with large-scale data publics?
    ●     How might we better conceptualise and work with complex data publics?
    ●     How are new technologies affecting the shape/direction of data publics?
  1. Methods / Interactions and interventions with Data Publics
  • How can we intervene in the formation, stabilisation, destabilisation, and transformation of publics? What role might such methods/creative practices themselves play in the constitution of data publics?
    ●     What forms of creative practice/visualisation/interaction design/human-computer interaction are needed to engage with data publics and to either support the emergence of or sustain such publics?
    ●     What (new/existing/combination of) methods/tools are required to study/shape the emergence/fate of data publics?


Those interested in participating in the conference should submit either a paper abstract including 5-10 indicative references, or a description of the work to be exhibited including, if relevant, a maximum of 5 illustrative images and an additional description of any technical/spatial requirements the exhibit has. Submissions of no more than 500 words should be sent to by January 22nd (descriptions of technical/spatial requirements and references are not included in the word count). We encourage participants to attend both the conference and a workshop, but it is not a requirement. Therefore, please also indicate in the submission whether you wish to attend (a) the conference and a workshop, or (b) just the conference. If you wish to attend a workshop please also indicate (c) whether you are interested in the ‘Digital Methods/Data Visualisation’ workshop or the ‘Strategies, Tools and Participatory Processes’ workshop.

Those interested in participating in just a workshop and not the conference, please email again by January 22nd indicating whether you are interested in the ‘Digital Methods/Data Visualisation’ workshop or the ‘Strategies, Tools and Participatory Processes’ workshop. Please also, in no more than 100 words, state why you wish to attend. As places on the workshop are limited, this will help us select participants if necessary.

If applying for a reduced fee (see below), please also state your reasons for doing so (100 words maximum).


Conference + workshop: £110 (Students/unwaged may apply for a reduced fee of £55).
Conference only: £90 (Students/unwaged may apply for a reduced fee of £45)
Workshop only: £60 (Students/unwaged may apply for a reduced fee of £30)
(Reduced fee places are limited and will be allocated first to those without recourse to external funding and then on a first come first served basis.)


Partners: The conference is funded by the Digital Economy Network and the Data Science Institute (Lancaster University), with additional support from the Centre for Mobilities Research (Lancaster University), ImaginationLancaster, the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Digital Civics (Newcastle University), and the HighWire Centre for Doctoral Training (Lancaster University).

Organisers: Clara Crivellaro (Newcastle University), Joe Deville (Lancaster University), Daniel Richards (Lancaster University), Sebastian Weise (Newcastle University).


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