AHP readers may be interested in a new piece in Theory, Culture & Society: “From Galton’s Pride to Du Bois’s Pursuit: The Formats of Data-Driven Inequality,” Colin Koopman. Abstract:
Data increasingly drive our lives. Often presented as a new trajectory, the deep immersion of our lives in data has a history that is well over a century old. By revisiting the work of early pioneers of what would today be called data science, we can bring into view both assumptions that fund our data-driven moment as well as alternative relations to data. I here excavate insights by contrasting a seemingly unlikely pair of early data technologists, Francis Galton and W.E.B. Du Bois. Galton, well known for his contributions to eugenics, was first and foremost a tinkering technician of measure. There are numerous domains of science over which Galtonian conceptions retain considerable influence, presumably without his pride in racial inequality. A more viable, because more egalitarian, alternative for the present can be found in the early data work of Du Bois.