Humans of Data: 000

At conferences and meetings around the world, much discussion happens about the technical and legislative challenges and opportunities relating to the pervasiveness and value of data, and particularly how we can create, manage, safeguard and make available data arising from research and from online consumer activities. In many presentations and group meetings, we who work in data management and curation repeatedly hear that our human behaviour – our desires, ambitions, fears, traditions and habits – shape how effectively we create, manage, share and reuse research data assets, and how open we are to collaborating on research data infrastructure. The technical challenges of creating, maintaining and using ethical data systems are usually susceptible to scoping and tackling, but the really intricate work is the work of creating social change and new behaviours.

As an artist and a researcher, I’m passionate about digital curation, digital preservation and research data management, and how those skills are useful to everyone in contemporary society to one extent or another. And I’m also passionate about the way that research data – and visual art – have so much potential to transform our lives, societies and the world around us. As I’ve continued to attend data-related conferences, I’ve become fascinated with this human element. I also noted that the International Data Week crowd is a welcome mix of nationalities, genders, ages and ethnicities. It’s critical that our conversations include people unlike ourselves, and there is so much to be gained from getting to know each other better in order to build the kinds of relationships that can help us make progress across communities, nationalities and disciplines.

To that end, I launched a project called Humans of Data. It's a really simple idea, following the algorithm of the 'Humans of New York' online project, where there is a photo and a quote from each (unnamed) participant. I hope this helps to get beyond job titles and institutional affiliations to reach a more personal, human conversation, and to stimulate connections among the amazing people I meet at data conferences and meetings all over the world. Humans of Data connects with the lives of those who are usually faceless working behind the data systems on which we rely, presents these people as individuals with their own hopes, ambitions, fears, preferences and habits.

Would you like to participate as a Human of Data? Just get in touch:

e: laura AT lauramolloy DOT com

tw: @LM_HATI

Looking forward to our collaboration!

Laura Molloy