Data Activism as the New Frontier of Media Activism
in "Media Activism in the Digital Age", edited by Goubin Yang and Viktor Pickard, Routledge (2017)
13 Pages Posted: 12 Dec 2016 Last revised: 20 Sep 2017
Date Written: January 31, 2016
With the diffusion of big data, citizens become increasingly aware of the critical role of information in contemporary societies. This awareness nurtures new social practices rooted in technology and data, which I term ‘data activism’. Data activism addresses massive data collection as both a challenge to individual rights and a novel set of opportunities for social change. It represents the new frontier of media activism, as it appropriates technological innovation for political purposes. It emerges from pre-existing sociotechnical networks, such as the hacker and the open-source movements, but overcomes their elitist character to involve ordinary users, thus signaling a change in perspective towards massive data collection emerging within civil society. This chapter offers a theoretical and empirical approach to investigate data activism. It places data activism in relation to the global social movement ecology, and examines the evolution of the “media activist” figure and role in relation to technological innovation.
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