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From Telling Stories with Data to Telling Stories with Data Infrastructures: Repurposing Digital Methods and the Data Sprint for Data Journalism

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Invited lecture at the University of Amsterdam, 7 January 2016.

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From Telling Stories with Data to Telling Stories with Data Infrastructures: Repurposing Digital Methods and the Data Sprint for Data Journalism

  1. 1. From Telling Stories with Data to Telling Stories with Data Infrastructures 7 January 2016, University of Amsterdam Liliana Bounegru | lilianabounegru.org | @bb_liliana Repurposing Digital Methods and the Data Sprint for Data Journalism
  2. 2. Data Journalism Handbook: http://datajournalismhandbook.org/
  3. 3. Data Journalism Handbook: http://datajournalismhandbook.org/
  4. 4. Data Journalism MOOC: http://datajournalismcourse.net/
  5. 5. Data Driven Journalism: http://datadrivenjournalism.net/
  6. 6. Data Journalism Awards: www.globaleditorsnetwork.org/programmes/data-journalism-awards/
  7. 7. 1. How could the data journalism mainstream be reimagined?
  8. 8. Bounegru, L. “What Data Journalists Need to Do Differently.” Harvard Business Review.! https://hbr.org/2014/05/what-data-journalists-need-to-do-differently/
  9. 9. –Bounegru, L. “What Data Journalists Need to Do Differently.” Harvard Business Review, 2014 “…when journalists are building their stories exclusively around existing data collected by a small number of major institutions and companies, this may exacerbate the tendency to amplify issues already considered a priority, and to downplay those that have been relegated or which aren’t on the radar screens of major institutions.”
  10. 10. –Frontex official cited in Le Monde Diplomatique, 31 March 2014 “Le travail de Frontex, c’est la lutte contre l’immigration illégale, pas le sauvetage en mer, et ces gens-là sont morts, ce ne sont plus des migrants.”
  11. 11. How could things be different?
  12. 12. –Bounegru, L. “What Data Journalists Need to Do Differently.” Harvard Business Review, 2014 “Data journalists should strive to go beyond established sources to find or create their own data in order to bring about fresh reflections and insights or to bring new issues to the public’s attention.”
  13. 13. http://www.themigrantsfiles.com/
  14. 14. –Nicolas Kayser-Bril cited in Gray, J., Lämmerhirt, D. and Bounegru, L. “Changing what counts: How can citizen and civil society data be used as an advocacy tool to change official data collection?” (2016) “The goal of the project changed as the investigation progressed: we originally thought that we would structure existing information in order to geolocate it … and then realised that …the story was not about the data we had but about the data we didn’t have.”
  15. 15. How could things be different?
  16. 16. From telling stories with data to telling stories with data infrastructures
  17. 17. Gray, J., Gerlitz, C. and Bounegru, L. (forthcoming). “Towards a Literacy for Data Infrastructures”
  18. 18. – Gray, J., Gerlitz, C. and Bounegru, L. (forthcoming). “Towards a Literacy for Data Infrastructures” “Might conceptions of data literacy which focus on increasing the effective use, uptake and transformation of data not risk overlooking questions about how data is made – and how it might be made differently?”
  19. 19. From data as a resource or raw material to be mined and to extract value from …
  20. 20. …To accounting for the wider data infrastructures which create the socio-technical conditions for the creation, extraction and analysis of data.
  21. 21. Where can we draw inspiration from to reimagine data journalism as telling stories with or about data infrastructures?
  22. 22. 2. Telling stories with data infrastructures: Examples from digital methods research
  23. 23. Situated at the intersection between media and social research after the digital turn
  24. 24. Digital Methods Initiative! www.digitalmethods.net
  25. 25. Digital methods take up the challenge of rethinking the methodological repertoires of social and cultural research by creatively engaging with digital infrastructures and their devices
  26. 26. – Richard Rogers, “Political Research in the Digital Age”, International Public Policy Review, 2014 “[Digital methods] refers to repurposing online devices and platforms (such as Google searches, Facebook and Wikipedia) for social and political research that would often have been otherwise improbable.”
  27. 27. – Richard Rogers, “Political Research in the Digital Age”, International Public Policy Review, 2014 “[Digital methods] encourage a sociological outlook or imagination about research opportunities that exist in online culture by following the medium rather than asking it to do one’s disciplinary bidding.”
  28. 28. –Noortje Marres, “Re-distributing methods - digital social research as participatory research,” 2011 “This approach accords to digital devices, search engines chief among them, the capacity to generate potentially new methods of social research.”
  29. 29. Digital methods are … ! (1) an approach to studying social and political issues online (“issue mapping”, “controversy mapping”, “digital STS”) ! (2) an approach to the study of digital platforms to makes visible the method and information politics of digital devices ! (3) a contribution to the methodological repertoire of social and Internet studies and way to reflect on the politics of methods of these disciplines
  30. 30. Some examples
  31. 31. 1. Mapping Right-Wing Formations in Europe with the web and hyperlink analysis!
  32. 32. The Guardian (2013) “The rise of far right parties across Europe is a chilling echo of the 1930s”.
 Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/nov/15/far-right-threat-europe-integration
  33. 33. Huffington Post (2014) “Sudden Rise of Far Right Groups in EU Parliament Rings Alarm Bells Across Europe”. Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/elinadav-heymann/sudden-rise-of-far-right- _b_5512961.html
  34. 34. New York Times (2014) “Populist Party Gaining Muscle to Push Britain to the Right”.
 Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/08/world/europe/populist-party-gaining-muscle-to-push- britain-to-the-right.html
  35. 35. What kinds of issues are most active amongst far right groups?
  36. 36. How are far right extremist groups connected to populist right and other right wing groups online?
  37. 37. What are the recruitment methods
 of far right groups?
  38. 38. Are current counter-measures proving effective?
  39. 39. Profiles for 13 European countries.
  40. 40. Method! 1. Compile lists of links per country with expert input 2. Hyperlink analysis with the Issue Crawler 3. Study issues and actors in resulting networks
  41. 41. Greece: blood and soil and organic markets
  42. 42. Rogers, R. et al (2013) “Right-Wing Formations in Europe and Their Counter-Measures: An Online Mapping”. Digital Methods Initiative. https://wiki.digitalmethods.net/Dmi/RightWingPopulismStudy
  43. 43. Hungary: horse and yurt recruitment festivals
  44. 44. Rogers, R. et al (2013) “Right-Wing Formations in Europe and Their Counter-Measures: An Online Mapping”. Digital Methods Initiative. https://wiki.digitalmethods.net/Dmi/RightWingPopulismStudy
  45. 45. Taking back the yurt?
  46. 46. Findings
 Right-wing politics in the North is animated by Islamophobia while the old right is still active in the South. ! New issues (e.g. environment, anti-globalisation and rights), principles and recruitment techniques animate right wing politics in Europe today. 
 Counter-measures are often outdated (mismatch between activities of the right and measures to counter them). !
  47. 47. 2. Mapping counter-Jihadist (anti-Islamist) groups with Facebook analysis
  48. 48. The Guardian (2012) “Far-right anti-Muslim network on rise globally as Breivik trial opens”. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/apr/14/breivik-trial-norway-mass-murderer
  49. 49. Hope Not Hate (2012) “Counter-Jihad Report”.
 Available at: http://www.hopenothate.org.uk/counter-jihad/
  50. 50. Are different Counter-Jihadist groups in Europe connected? If so how?
  51. 51. Methods! ! 1. Set up Facebook research account ! 2. Submit request to join Facebook groups of interest making research intentions known in the request ! 3. Use the Netvizz application to extract (anonymised) user activity data across groups
  52. 52. Digital Methods Initiative. “Counter-Jihadist Networks: Mapping the Connections Between Facebook Groups in Europe.”
  53. 53. Digital Methods Initiative. “Counter-Jihadist Networks: Mapping the Connections Between Facebook Groups in Europe.”
  54. 54. Findings
 
 Facebook is an important medium for extremist groups. ! Three main clusters based on geographical proximity. ! European Counter-Jihadist groups are networked and transnational. ! Most engaged with content is meme-like.
  55. 55. 3. Mapping climate change adaptation with transcripts and indicators
  56. 56. http://climaps.org/
  57. 57. Climaps (2014). Available at: http://climaps.org
  58. 58. Findings! Both adaptation and mitigation are highly visible in negotiations. Mitigation has been a top priority from the beginning. 
 
 Adaptation received less attention in the beginning with the exception of adaptation financing Adaptation becomes more important in the second phase of the negotiations.
  59. 59. Climaps (2014). Available at: http://climaps.org
  60. 60. Notable stability in presence and intervention of countries. Most active are China (representing G77), United States and Europe. Notable exceptions include Bolivia and Philippines who are becoming more prominent in recent negotiations. Countries tend to be more active when they host the negotiations.
  61. 61. “…the negotiations on climate change have moved from mitigation to also include adaptation, an issue which could in principle be seen as a national responsibility.
 
 Here it becomes particularly acute to justify which countries should receive aid and why. A much debated method for doing so is the assessment of vulnerability to climate change.” ! - climaps.org
  62. 62. http://index.gain.org/ranking
  63. 63. http://download.daraint.org/CVM2-Low.pdf
  64. 64. Who is vulnerable according to whom? Climaps (2014). Available at: http://climaps.org
  65. 65. Vulnerability indices tend to disagree in their assessment of different countries. Very few countries (7) are among the most vulnerable according to all three indices. Quite a few countries (25) are simultaneously assessed to be most vulnerable and least vulnerable according to different indices. The assessment of climate change vulnerability by means of indicators continues to be a contentious issue divide in both policy and academic communities.
  66. 66. Wired Italia (2014) “Cambiamenti del clima: 20 anni di conferenze”. March 2014. No. 60.
  67. 67. Wired Italia (2014) “Cambiamenti del clima: 20 anni di conferenze”. March 2014. No. 60.
  68. 68. Wired Italia (2014) “Cambiamenti del clima: 20 anni di conferenze”. March 2014. No. 60.
  69. 69. Wired Italia (2014) “Beautiful Information, in mostra le migliori infografiche di Wired”.
 Available at: http://www.wired.it/attualita/media/2014/03/04/beautiful-information-infografiche-wired/
  70. 70. Wired Italia (2014) “Beautiful Information, in mostra le migliori infografiche di Wired”.
 Available at: http://www.wired.it/attualita/media/2014/03/04/beautiful-information-infografiche-wired/
  71. 71. 3. Telling stories with data infrastructures: Examples from journalism
  72. 72. How might journalism that is aligned with the digital methods outlook look like? • It would engage not with data as raw materials but with data infrastructures. • It would engage with digital platforms as objects of investigation not just sources of data to tell stories about issues, platform effects or both. • It would account for the socio-technical conditions for the creation, extraction and analysis of data as a key part of the investigation rather than a methodological footnote. • It would take seriously the investigation’s potential to interrogate and intervene in the composition of data infrastructures. • It may go in the direction of algorithmic accountability reporting (investigation into the “power structures” and biases inscribed in computational algorithms - Diakopoulos 2014).
  73. 73. Some examples from journalism
  74. 74. Reverse engineering Netflix’s film genres database
  75. 75. How Netflix Reverse Engineered Hollywood. The Atlantic (2014)
  76. 76. How Netflix Reverse Engineered Hollywood. The Atlantic (2014)
  77. 77. Mapping the dynamics of misinformation on Twitter
  78. 78. Reading the Riots: How Riot Rumours Spread on Twitter. The Guardian (2011)
  79. 79. Reading the Riots: How Riot Rumours Spread on Twitter. The Guardian (2011)
  80. 80. Reverse engineering targeting models in email campaigns of political elections
  81. 81. Message Machine: Reverse Engineering the 2012 Campaign. ProPublica (2012)
  82. 82. Message Machine: Reverse Engineering the 2012 Campaign. ProPublica (2012)
  83. 83. Mapping the French political blogosphere
  84. 84. Le Monde, "2007-2011 : la cartographie de la blogosphère politique" (2012)
  85. 85. Le Monde, "2007-2011 : la cartographie de la blogosphère politique" (2012)
  86. 86. Making visible the memory politics of social media platforms
  87. 87. China’s Memory Hole: The Images Erased From Sina Weibo. ProPublica (2013)
  88. 88. 4. The Winter School and the Data Sprint Format
  89. 89. What is the Digital Methods Winter School? What is a data sprint? ! See: https://vimeo.com/148249099
  90. 90. Thank you! Liliana Bounegru | lilianabounegru.org | @bb_liliana

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