Women, Data & The Future explored women’s relationships with, and experiences of, data.
“Before, I found data talk boring. Now I want to learn more” – Knowle West Participant
The project ran from January to October 2017 and supported 16 women from Bristol and Wales to make more informed choices about who sees and benefits from their data and how they share their lives online.
During the project the women took part in a series of workshops and worked with six artists to create new artworks. The artists were Stefanie Posavec, Erica Jewell, Eliza Lomas, Amak Mahmoodian, Charlotte Biszewski and Lizzie Philps.
The project emerged from discussions between two community organisations involved in the Productive Margins research programme: Knowle West Media Centre and 3Gs Community Development Trust in Gurnos, Merthyr Tydfil. This co-produced research was also intended as a knowledge exchange between us, as we hadn’t worked together before, and an opportunity for researchers and organisations to better understand local residents’ digital literacy.
All of the participants in the project were women; many were parents, with those in Merthyr Tydfil tending to be older with teenage children. We held six workshops in both Knowle West and Merthyr Tydfil between February and March 2017, exploring topics including data privacy, understanding personal and ‘big data’, the role of digital data in participants’ neighbourhoods, and how data companies use personal data. In May 2017, both groups came together to reflect, share and discuss the workshops.
Workshop 1 focused on what we understand data to be, an introduction to Jawbone wearable technology and health data gathered about each community.
Workshop 2 introduced participants to data visualization to help them interpret numerical data gathered using the wearable ‘Jawbone’ technology and a smartphone application.
Workshop 3 focused on social media and understanding how we share information online.
Workshop 4 explored privacy settings on social media, including learning about cookies and data brokers, as well as targeted advertising.
Workshop 5 centered on the terms and conditions of social media sites and the pros and cons of cookie tracking. Participants also looked at the Citizen Me application
Workshop 6 was spent digging deeper into data visualization with artist Stefanie Posavec.
During the workshop in May both groups met in Knowle West at our digital manufacturing space KWMC: The Factory to share their experiences of the project and see how some of their personal data had been transformed into art objects by Stefanie.
After the workshops, the women from Knowle West worked with us to produce an exhibition sharing what they had learnt over the course of the project.
The exhibition was displayed in the Test Space here at Knowle West Media Centre, with a smaller selection of images and artworks shown at We The Curious during the summer holiday.
To close the exhibition, KWMC and Productive Margins co-hosted a symposium during BBC Digital Bristol Week. ‘The Future of Data: Taking Back Control?’ prompted a lively debate and included provocations from three guest speakers who explored the future of data ethics, privacy and value and invited visitors to imagine a different ‘data future’. The speakers were Mara Balestrini (Partner & Research Director, Ideas for Change) , Ed Boal (Deputy Head of Digital Media & Technology, Gregg Latchams) and Andrew Charlesworth (Reader in IT and Law, University of Bristol). The event was chaired by Katherine Rooney.
Below you can listen to a summary of the event in an audio track created by sound artist Eliza Lomas.
This project was a collaboration with the research programme Productive Margins: Regulating for Engagement, University of Bristol and is funded by the ESRC.
For more information about the project please contact Penny Evans on 0117 903 0444 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Images: Ibolya Feher