Anders Koed Madsen and Anders Kristian Munk discuss their paper "Experiments with a data-public: Moving digital methods into critical proximity with political practice" in Big Data & Society 6(1), https://doi.org/10.1177/2053951718825357. First Published February 15, 2019.
Making publics visible through digital traces has recently generated interest by practitioners of public engagement and scholars within the field of digital methods. This paper presents an experiment in moving such methods into critical proximity with political practice and discusses how digital visualizations of topical debates become appropriated by actors and hardwired into existing ecologies of publics and politics. Through an experiment in rendering a specific data-public visible, it shows how the interplay between diverse conceptions of the public as well as the specific platforms and data invoked, resulted in a situated affordance-space that allowed specific renderings take shape, while disadvantaging others. Furthermore, it argues that several accepted tropes in the literatures of digital methods ended up being problematic guidelines in this space. Among these is the prescription to shown heterogeneity by pushing back at established media logics.
Keywords: Digital methods, public engagement, pragmatism, controversy-mapping, critical proximity, multiplicity