11 October 2017

Datafied Society Research Platform Launched

© iStockphoto.com/peterhowell
© iStockphoto.com/peterhowell

As ‘big data’ touch upon almost all aspects of everyday life, interdisciplinary research becomes urgent. At Utrecht University an interdisciplinary group of scholars got together to address emerging issues in a joint-effort. The Datafied Society Research Platform, initiated by dr Mirko Tobias Schäfer and dr Karin van Es, brings together scholars from media studies, computer sciences, public management, ethics, geo sciences, law and economy.

Societal Challenges

The Datafied Society Research Hub addresses societal challenges emerging from novel data practices in public governance and management, (public) media and public space and seizes opportunities for using data practices to foster citizenship, civic participation and creative production.

Dr. Mirko Schäfer
Dr. Mirko Schäfer

Interdisciplinary collaboration

Striking is the participation of the many humanities scholars, but as the platform coordinators argue “Big data is not a mere technical challenge but very much a social and cultural one that requires the active involvement of humanities scholars as much as interdisciplinary collaboration between different disciplines.”

Strong network

The participants of the Datafied Society Research Platform have no intentions of studying the social transformation through datafication from the perspective of the academic ivory tower. They already have developed a strong network to societal sectors such as public management and the media industry. Partners from these sectors are actively involved in research projects and their organisations serve as environment for actual field research.

Dr. Karin van Es
Dr. Karin van Es

Utrecht Data School

Here, the new research platform benefits from the network and the efforts of the Utrecht Data School which developed over the past for years a strong cooperation with societal sectors for investigating data practices and data issues. The platform will function as an impromptu think tank on emerging socio-political issues related to datafication and is focused on knowledge transfer and societal impact.

Launch

The platform was launched with a seminar at datavisualization bureau Clever°Franke on October 5th. The speakers, Prof. dr. José van Dijck (UU), Prof. dr. Helen (University of Sheffield), and Prof. dr. Albert Meijer (UU) touched upon the many societal challenges rising from corporations thriving on datafication (José van Dijck), the need for data literacy (Helen Kennedy) and the technocratic understanding of smart cities (Albert Meijer).