Tuesday, January 21, 2014

CfP: Data & Discrimination

Here's another one about data (this time without the "big" in the title). The call sounds great though, it's about one of the core questions of surveillance studies and focuses on discrimination. It seems that it's organized by communication scholars. Here's the call:
Data and Discrimination: Converting Critical Concerns into Productive Inquiry

A preconference at the 64th Annual Meeting of the International Communication Association
Thursday, May 22, 2014, 9:00-4:30
Seattle, Washington, Sheraton Seattle Hotel
Organized by Seeta Peña Gangadharan, Open Technology Institute, New America Foundation

Call for Papers | Submission | Registration | Schedule

Critics increasingly cite the pervasiveness of data collection by corporate and government actors as evidence of a growing problem that requires intervention and oversight. But what about the analysis of these data or other processes like data storage, transmission, and sharing? More importantly, in each of these contexts, what constitutes harm and who or what is likely affected?

In this preconference, scholars will explore the nature and consequences of discrimination that occurs when corporations and governments collect, store, transmit, share, and analyze information about consumers and citizens. Discrimination can be understood in technical terms, such as parameters of an algorithm that identify patterns in a data set, in political terms, such as when a lack of data collection on certain populations leads to policy choices and the distribution of resources, or social and economic terms, such as when analysis of consumers’ digital behavior leads to targeted marketing of particular products.

This convening will present new ways to identify and differentiate forms of data-based discrimination and to convert critical concerns into productive inquiry. We aim to discuss historical, methodological, moral, and ethical issues that will inform a critical perspective on computational, algorithmic, and aggregative processes governing public and private decision making today.

Call for Papers

We welcome scholarly contributions that address the following questions:
  • What is data-based discrimination? Who or what discriminates? Who is discriminated against? Why? Which stage—data collection, sharing, transmission, analysis—matters more to discriminatory process or outcomes?
  • Under what conditions do data distort, pervert, or harm more than help? For example, what is the relationship of open data initiatives to data-based discrimination?
  • How do we conceptualize error or noise in the age of big data analysis? Is data obfuscation, for example, a liberatory process? What are predigital examples of data-driven discrimination?
  • What mechanisms, regulatory or otherwise, can solve problems related to data-based discrimination?
  • When does exclusion from data collection processes and their analysis equate with social, economic, and political exclusion?

We welcome extended abstracts of original works from scholars at all stages of their careers and across multiple disciplines. We also welcome submissions from practitioners. Please submit an extended abstract (approximately 750 words) in the form of a pdf to ica2014@opentechinstitute.org.


Register for this preconference online beginning January 15, 2014, as part of your main ICA conference registration, or as a stand-alone item. The cost per person is $50. A limited number of fee scholarships for nationals based in a developing country will be available. If interested, please put “Scholarship” in the header of your extended abstract. Also, two spots are available for “Rapporteurs,” which entails documenting the event in exchange for a fee waiver. Please indicate “Rapporteur” in the header of your submission. Preference for rapporteurs will be given to graduate students.


Deadline for proposals: January 31, 2014.
Confirmation of receipt: Week of February 3, 2014
Decision announced: February 21, 2014
Deadline for submission of completed papers: April 21, 2014
Preconference: May 22, 2014 
(via the surveillance studies mailing list)

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