Max Liboiron and I received the good news that our CHI paper, entitled The Politics of Measurement and Action, has been accepted for CHI 2015. I will be presenting the paper in Seoul in April.
Abstract: Contemporary populations, public services, security, and the environment are often made through knowledge gleaned from ‘big data’ and its attendant infrastructures and algorithms. Though often described as ‘raw,’ this data is produced by techniques of measurement. As examined by previous research, these practices of measurement are never “raw.” They are imbued with judgments and values that dictate what is counted and what is not, what is considered the best unit of measurement, and how different things are grouped together and “made” into a measureable entity. In this paper, we analyze these politics of measurement through two case studies involving high stake public health measurements. We find that the judgments and values that inhere in seemingly mundane, disinterested measurement – and thus in data–-are also recognized by medical practitioners who intentionally leverage measurement to change definitions of harm and health. Our work thus widens the conversation about the politics of measurement to include emancipatory aims alongside cautionary ethics more common in existing literature.