Once the rarified stuff of scientists and statisticians, data are now at the heart of our global digital economy, transforming everything from how we perceive the value of a professional athlete to the intelligence gathering activities of governments. We are told that the right data can turn an election, help predict crime, improve our businesses, our health and our capacity to make decisions.
Beginning with a simple question - how do most people encounter and experience data? - Nathaniel Tkacz sets out on a path at odds with much of the contemporary discussion about data. When we encounter data, he contends, it is often in highly routinised ways, through formatted displays and for specific cognitive tasks. What data are and can do is largely a matter of how they are formatted. To understand our 'datafied' societies, we need to turn our attention to data's formats and the powers of formatting. This book offers an account of one such format: the dashboard. From their first appearance with the horse and carriage, Tkacz guides readers on the historical development of this format. Through analyses of car dashboards, early managerial dashboards, and the gradual emergence of dashboards as a computer display technology, Tkacz shows how today's digital dashboards came to be, and how their cultural history conditions the present.
Highly original and wide-ranging, this book will change how you think about data.
As part of the international App Studies Initiative, Michael Dieter and Nate Tkacz have published the findings of their study of Covid apps, funded by the ESRC. Here is the abstract, published in the Internet Policy Review:
This article provides an exploratory systematic mapping of the global ecosystem of COVID-19 pandemic response apps. After considering policy updates by Google Play’s and Apple’s App Store, we analyse all the available response apps in July 2020; their different response types; the apps’ developers and geographical distribution; the ecosystem’s ‘generativity’ and developers’ responsiveness during the unfolding pandemic; the apps’ discursive positioning; and material conditions of their development. Google and Apple are gatekeepers of these app ecosystems and exercise control on different layers, shaping the pandemic app response as well as the relationships between governments, citizens, and other actors. We suggest that this global ecosystem of pandemic responses reflects an exceptional mode of what we call ‘pandemic platform governance’, where platforms have negotiated their commercial interests and the public interest in exceptional circumstances.
Click here, to find out more about the new chapter by Pablo Velasco González and Nathaniel Tkacz in the Handbook of Peer Production