This lecture explores the risks of uncritical approaches to data on issues of social change with a focus on how it is harnessed in images.

Accurate information is a basis for effective policy-making, yet data is far too often understood as empirically incontestable. This apparently evidence-based analysis can obscure more than it reveals. This lecture will examine how data is mobilized in data visualization on issues of social change in ways that serve ideological agendas. Specht will begin by examining how images work with a re-contextualization of impressionist art. A critic of Cézanne declared that his artwork was nothing more than an ugly untruth, a deliberate distortion of nature. Using this notion as a starting point, this lecture questions how data visualization illustrates trends and presents truth claims, through the privileging certain perspectives and, importantly, the rejection of others. Through a number of examples he will develop the concepts of digital-positivism, datawash and darkdata as critical tools for approaching the communication of data, putting forth the idea that we could avoid the obfuscations of data by understanding that its voids are political and that these voids might help us more clearly see power and ideology in data.

Doug Specht

Doug Specht is a Senior Lecturer at the Communication and Media Research Institute, within the University of Westminster. His research examines how knowledge is constructed and codified through digital and cartographic artifacts, centering on human development issues. He sits on BSi committee IST/36 Geographic Information, where he focuses on geographic data in the SDGs and on web ontologies. He also holds positions at Media Culture and Society and Westminster Papers in Communication and Culture. 
 

Register your attendance at Forthcoming AUR events

Register your attendance at Forthcoming AUR events

Please select the event(s)  for which you wish to register

Your information



Additional Attendees


Would you like to be kept informed?

Use of your personal data
Please check the first box below to indicate that you consent to share your personal information with The American University of Rome and for this information to be held on record to facilitate your enquiry/application. 

Please check the second box below to indicate your consent to receive direct communications from The American University of Rome (via email). The American University of Rome in return agrees to only send you such communications as may be of direct interest to you.

The American University of Rome adheres to all relevant data protection regulations and your information will not be passed to any third-party without your formal consent. 


Please note: failure to give consent will, unfortunately, mean that we are unable to process your event booking. You can view details of our Privacy Policy at https://aur.edu/privacy-policy