Data for the Social good

In cooperation with DATACTIVE

16nov2017 20:00 - 21:30


As every aspect of our daily lives becomes susceptible of turning into data being collected, analyzed and repurposed, the question arises what kind of consequences this process will bring for society. In this programme we will assess this question with experts Charlotte Ryan, Lorenzo Pezzani, Jeff Deutch and Hadi Al Khatib.

This is an evening about data collected and processed for social causes. Just as socioeconomic data about us are used by institutions to decide upon the allocation of budget for public health, housing or urban planning, and behavioural data helps businesses to determine their location or set their prices, digital data are also mobilised by activists to legitimize their struggles against poverty, racism or injustice. Recently, as every aspect of our daily lives has turned into data susceptible of being quantified, processed and repurposed, it is not only the metrics created about us that are used as input for all kinds of decision making, but those generated by us through the daily use of different types of technologies.

Although we hear a lot about the risks of (personal) data being used by corporations and states, there are also many examples of usage by organisations or individuals with the goal of improving society. From crowdsourced maps about femicide in Latin America to the analysis of videos and photos to reconstruct drone attacks, data produced by people is mobilised for social good. The goal of this event is to reflect upon the possibilities for research and activism (and potential combinations) brought about by the massive production, collection and availability of data.

With the help of Charlotte Ryan (Media Research and Action Project/ MRAP, University of Massachusetts Lowell), Lorenzo Pezzani (Forensic Architecture, Goldsmiths), and Jeff Deutch and Niko Para (The Syrian Archive), the event will focus on discussing different dimensions of activist research. Fieke Jansen will be moderating the evening.

About the speakers

Prof. Charlotte Ryan (University of Massachusetts Lowell), the cofounder of the Movement/Media Research and Action Project(MRAP). Ryan worked also as an organizer in labor, community, health and anti-intervention movements, and has extensive experience with collaborative work between academia and activism. Ryan is also a member of the DATACTIVE Ethics Board.

Lorenzo Pezzani is an architect and researcher. He is currently Lecturer at Goldsmiths, University of London, where he leads the MA studio in Forensic Architecture. His work deals with the spatial politics and visual cultures of migration, with a particular focus on the geography of the ocean. Since 2011, he has been working on Forensic Oceanography, a collaborative project that critically investigate the militarized border regime in the Mediterranean Sea, and has co-founded the WatchTheMed platform. Together with a wide network of NGOs, scientists, journalists, and activist groups, he has produced maps, videos and human right reports that attempt to document and challenge the ongoing death of migrants at sea.

Jeff Deutch & Niko Para from The Syrian Archive. The Syrian Archive is a Syrian-led collective of human rights activists dedicated to preserving open-source visual documentation relating to human rights violations committed by all sides during the Syrian conflict. Jeff Deutch is a fellow at the Centre for Internet and Human Rights and a PhD candidate at the Humboldt-University in Berlin. He has developed workflows and methodologies for open-source investigations of human rights violations. Niko Para is lead technologist with the Syrian Archive where he develops the Sugarcube sequential data investigation pipeline for secure collection, preservation, transformation of user-generated content. He has worked with Tactical Technology Collective, Global Witness, as well as numerous smaller agricultural, artistic, and musical organisations and collectives. He unapologetically plays the banjo.

Fieke Jansen is an independent researcher. She worked on the Politics of Data programme for Tactical Tech untill recently. And before, she helped set up and manage the digital emergency programme for human rights defenders and activists at Hivos. She is co-author of the book Digital AlterNatives.



Also SPUI25-vistors are invited to attend the conference. Registration for the conference is free, but places are limited. Register through the link below.

Location: SPUI25