A two-day, international conference

Dates: 22nd & 23rd June 2017

Venue: School of Journalism & Communication, Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Data Power 2017 builds on the successful Data Power 2015 Conference held in Sheffield.

Increasingly pervasive in our daily lives, data are constituted through converging technologies and practices such as the internet of things, smart cities, drones and precision agriculture; global finance, credit scoring and data brokerage firms; surveillance, predictive policing and customer relation management systems, to name a few. Data are also generated by and flow through applications, software, platforms, and infrastructures that reshape how we play, work, eat, socialize, see ourselves, and know the world. In an era of data power, data have become agentic, especially when input into black-boxed algorithms and systems whose outputs are used to profile and sort us, influence the political economy, and for purposes for which no consent was given. Is this a ‘fait accompli’?

To answer this question, the Data Power 2017 conference asks: How can we reclaim some form of data-based power and autonomy, and advance data-based technological citizenship, while living in regimes of data power? Is it possible to regain agency and mobilize data for the common good? To do so, which theories help to interrogate and make sense of the operations of data power? What kind of design frameworks are needed to build and deploy data-based technologies with values and ethics that are equitable and fair? How can big data be mobilized to improve how we live, beyond notions of efficiency and innovation?

This conference creates a space to reflect on these and other critical issues relating to data’s ever more ubiquitous power. To date, the following keynote speakers and commentators on data power have been confirmed:

  • Paul N. Edwards, University of Michigan, author of A Vast Machine: Computer Models, Climate Data, and the Politics of Global Warming (2010);
  • Stefania Milan, University of Amsterdam, author of Social Movements and Their Technologies: Wiring Social Change (2016), and PI of the DATACTIVE project;
  • Helen Nissenbaum, New York University, author of Privacy, Big Data and the Public Good (2014), and PI of the Values in Design project;
  • Frank Pasquale, University of Maryland, author of The Black Box Society: The Secret Algorithms that Control Money and Information (2015).

Papers and Sessions are invited on the following – and other relevant – topics:

  • The political economy of data
  • Data and journalism
  • Theorizing data
  • The politics of data visualization
  • Data labour
  • The social life of data and data-driven methods
  • The politics of open and linked data
  • Data-driven governance, surveillance and control
  • Data, discrimination and inequality
  • Social, ethical and legal issues
  • Data citizens
  • Data activism, citizen engagement and advocacy
  • Data, genealogy and power
  • Data power and violence
  • Critical cultural and feminist approaches to data
  • Resistance, agency and appropriation.


  • Whilst we welcome papers and sessions of all kinds, please note that this conference focuses on critical questions about data’s power and also papers that are critical and/or reflective with regards to the social and cultural consequences of the rise of data’s power.
  • Please submit 250 word paper proposals, using the following online submission system:
  • The deadline for paper proposals is Friday 25th January 2017.
  • The conference fee is $225 (CAD) for all, and $90 (CAD) for students.
  • The organising committee will select papers for a special issue on Data Power in the following peer reviewed journals: The Canadian Journal of Communication and Online Information Review.

Thursday, December 8, 2016 in
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