“Civic Media and Data (h)ac(k)tivism: Environments, Tools and Practices for Critical Data+Code Literacy and Visualization” presented by Luna-Cárdenas


Session Title:

  • Bio-creation of Informatics Panel

Presentation Title:

  • Civic Media and Data (h)ac(k)tivism: Environments, Tools and Practices for Critical Data+Code Literacy and Visualization




  • Keywords: Citizen Empowerment, Prototyping tools, Open Infrastructures, Data visualization, Data Narratives, Data Activism, Hacker Spaces, Democratization of Technology, Knowledge Commons

    This paper is one of the contributions to an academic panel titled: “Bio-creation of informatics: Rethinking data ecosystems in the network economy”. The panel seeks to explore different approaches for trans-disciplinary media art and design practitioners in re-imagining data ecosystems and at the same time engaging members of the general public to reflect and contribute to an inclusive discourse that may re-shape public policy surrounding data ecosystems , from the lenses of ownership, privacy, transparency, openness and choice of individuals. The panel is moderated, coauthored and edited by Catalina Alzate.

    A responsible data-driven environment must consider data as a political human construct, and be spaces for empowering citizens. One important aspect of citizen empowerment involves prototyping of tools and practices that challenge hierarchies, by blurring binary constructs like author / lector, developer / user, document / data, binary application / source code. On this line of thought, a set of tools and practices will be described that look at data from a critical perspective, contrasting the neutralized “Hello world” approach to technology learning, and allowing the emergence of diverse communities of authorship. The tools blend code, document, data, query and visuals, and propose strategies to make the source code and history of all digital artifacts open to share, for improving the traceability of data and data derived arguments. I call them “pocket infrastructures” because they are self-contained, work online and offline and run on modest common technologies, from USB thumb drives to modest laptops and anything in between and beyond. These infrastructures try to put data in “everyone’s pocket”, contrasting sharply the exclusionary ‘cloud’, ‘big data’ & ‘always connected’ discourses, where infrastructure can be owned only by the ones with “deep pockets”. This tool and its related practices are in dialogue with other approaches like the feminist data visualization (D’Ignazio and Klein 2016), literate computing (Perez and Granger 2015) and reproducible research.

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