In a recent paper, Dennis Broeders and I suggested that in the era of big data, we see rather than read. States have traditionally gathered data on their citizens in person, through survey methods, and have used those data to inform policymaking. James C Scott, in his book Seeing Like a State, refers to this […]

In a recent post on the World Economic Forum’s blog, Kate Crawford argues that two of the biggest challenges posed by big data are preserving due process and reducing power imbalances at a time when data scientists have an unprecedented ability to ‘classify and quantify human life’. In contrast to her focus on the human […]

Accra is in tears today. Last night a heavy rain storm descended on the city, flooding it to a depth of metres in some places. A crowd of people took refuge in a petrol station in the centre of town near Nkrumah Circle, not realising that the tanks below them were overflowing due to the […]

Last week I published a post on the Society and Space blog site, suggesting that its time for researchers – and geographers in particular – to consider and debate in much greater detail the kinds of data that we can use, and how much they can tell us about the world. ‘Big data’ research is the subject […]

(This post discusses ideas from a paper that’s currently under review. You can read it here.) Amartya Sen gave a talk today in Amsterdam. For those who don’t know him, he is the originator of the Capability approach to development (where development is measured by people’s capacity to fulfill their potential in things as diverse […]

At the ‘Responsible Data for Humanitarian Response’ conference, yesterday was data governance day. I wrote here about the challenge of figuring out how checks and balances might work with regard to humanitarian data use, and yesterday a group of us considered the idea of defining smaller ‘villages’ within the huge and diverse humanitarian response sector, in order […]

I’m at a conference in the Hague this week, on Responsible Data for Humanitarian Response, where I’m about to do a session on ‘checks and balances’ in data governance for the humanitarian field. This is an interesting challenge, because currently there aren’t a lot of them either in that field or in relation to developing […]


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