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Session Overview
#SA2: Nuances of Data Roundtable
Wednesday, 24/Jul/2019:
9:00am - 10:30am

Session Chair: Chris Alen Sula
Location: Marquis B, Marriott City Center
capacity 42

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Nuances of Data: What Can DH Contribute?

Chris Alen Sula

Pratt Institute, United States of America

Critics, both inside and outside of the digital humanities, have noted a range of ways in which data tends to encode, reinscribe, perpetuate, amplify, and even favor existing power structures—or, at the very least, that data is limited in its radical potential for dismantling those structures. These criticisms extend beyond databases themselves and include related processes of analysis and visualization. It is often suggested that digital humanists can offer special contributions to these discussions, in part because of their disciplinary perspectives and in part because their data provide particularly useful test cases: historical data, with its attendant ambiguities; data about people and their identities; data generated within or about social change; and so on. It is similarly suggested that scrutinizing this "small data" will benefit discussions of "big data" writ large in our world today.

This roundtable will begin with a broad framing of data challenges noted in the DH literature, followed by discussion with participants about nuances of their work with data and how those nuances might prove instructive beyond the (digital) humanities. We will consider both cases of success, in which participants have developed novel ways of working with data, as well as cases of blockage or failure, which perhaps point to limitations on what can (or should) be done with data. Participants should come prepared to discuss past and present examples of their work with databases, data collection, algorithms, analysis, visualization, data management, data governance, or other related topics.

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