On the 6th February the creativity cluster attended the Big Bang Data exhibition in London. You can read more about the exhibit from Becky Snape and Geof Hill in their blog posts. In the creativity cluster meeting this March we were asked to prepare questions which reflected the themes that we felt were highlighted through the exhibition.
Consent and privacy:
George Turvey felt the exhibit raised questions around personal data collection asking about what is happening with the data we create and who owns the data at the end of the day:
- Where are we going with our endless production of data – in colossal and ever-growing quantities?
Apple’s cloud data centres
- How is data being used? – including data that relates to us and is sometimes personal data
- Is the data we produce still ours? – e.g. texts over mobile networks, social media posts crossing the internet and causing interactions in huge, distant data centres, photos stored on our own harddrives, online or in cloud storage
- Does our technology and use of data enhance life or make us ‘better people’?
PhD student Becky Snape asked similar questions around consent:
- To what extent have our private lives become public, and what implications does this have for society and the individuals who negotiate it?
- Do we have to accept that we give up some of our rights to privacy when we use the Internet?
Many in the cluster brought up the work ‘The Others’, from the exhibit, by artists Eva and Franco Mattes:
‘The Others is a slideshow of 10,000 photographs stolen from hacked computers, sound-tracked by songs taken from the same hard-drives. The series provokes ideas about our concept of public and private space, and how it is becoming more and more blurred.’
This work had a significant impact on the group as it raised concerns about the consent of the participants in this piece of art.Alex Wade made an interesting comment that we are ‘selling our lives for convenience‘. Personally, the exhibit made me feel that on the surface social media has its benefits but it can also have a much darker side. It feels like a time-bomb and at some point it could be turned against us if needed.
Redefining the Rules:
Questions around ‘power’ and ‘rules’ in research we raised. Who determines if research is done ethically? Who defines ‘good’ data collection. Becky Snape discussed data collection through social media and the idea of consent from participants. Victoria Kinsella wondered if we, as researchers, can learn from the artists in the in the exhibit – can we can start challenging the norms and ‘rules’ of research – redefining what research and data mean:
- What is the relationship between the knower and the unknown?
- Disrupting ways of seeing
- Foucault – notions of power and the gaze
The exhibit made the group consider how we can communicate data and meaning besides just using the written word. We discussed why we perhaps choose writing as the dominant form of communication and how we may challenge this norm. I thought about two examples of how I use images and music to communicate meaning:
1) The first image is of my Primary PGCSE class – I get the students to draw their route into the uni – we then use their graphic journeys to create music.
2) The second set of images below are pictures of music classrooms for my PhD research. I have been amazed about how one image can stimulate a number of discussions and topics raised in my PhD and how the images link to the interviews and observations. These images are a vital part of the research.
All of these extensive topics have important relevance to the research taking place in CSPACE. The exhibit has made us challenge our own perceptions of data, dissemination, communication, privacy, power, consent and ethics.