It seems that data are everywhere – except the times when they aren’t there! Data can sometimes be absent, invisible, gone, not found, missing or simply dead. In a research process these absences and invisibilities can cause disillusionment, confusion, frustration, anxiety, relief, a laugh, and a whole lot of work.
Welcome to an afternoon about data which aren’t where they are expected to be. The workshop starts with a short presentations and panel of two fresh research papers about absent (Kjær, Ojala, and Henriksen forthcoming) and invisible data (Neumayer, Rossi, and Struthers 2021), followed by discussion with the participants. Bring your own stories about missing data.
Monday the 22nd of November, 2021 from 12:00 to 14:00.
Room 4A58 at IT University of Copenhagen.
Facilitators: Katrine Meldgaard Kjær, Mace Ojala, and Line Henriksen
Register by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org by November 15th
Neumayer, C., Rossi, L., & Struthers, D. M. (2021). Invisible Data: A Framework for Understanding Visibility Processes in Social Media Data. Social Media + Society. https://doi.org/10.1177/2056305120984472
Social media data are increasingly used to study a variety of social phenomena. This development is based on the assumption that digital traces left on social media can provide insights into the nature of human interaction. In this research, we turn our attention to what remains invisible in research based on social media data. Using Andrea Brighenti’s work on “social visibility” as a point of departure, we unpack data invisibilities, as they are created within four dimensions: people and intentionality, technologies and tools, accessibility and form, and meaning and imaginaries. We introduce the notion of quasi-visible data as an intermediary between visible and invisible data highlighting the processual character of data invisibilities. With this conceptual framework, we contribute to developing a more reflective and ethical field of research into the study of social phenomena based on social media data. We conclude by arguing that distancing ourselves from the assumption that all social media data are visible and focusing on the invisible will enhance our understanding of digital data.
Kjær, K. M., Ojala, M., & Henriksen, L. (forthcoming). Absent Data: Engagements with Absence in a Twitter Collection Process. Catalyst.
This paper considers the ways in which silences and absences are a central part of research that relies on automated data collection from social media or the internet. In recent years, automated data collection driven or supported research methods have gained popularity within the social sciences and humanities. With this increase in popularity, it becomes ever more pertinent to consider how to engage with digital data, and how both engagement and data are situated, messy, and contingent. Based on experiences with “missing” data, this paper mobilizes the framework of hauntology to make sense of what relationships may be built with missing data and how silences haunt research practices. Ultimately, we argue that it is possible to reimagine absent data not as a limitation but as an invitation to reflect on and establish new methods for working with automated data collections.