Anders Koed Madsen: “Tracing Data – Paying Attention: Interpreting digital methods through the lens of valuation studies and pragmatism”

Practices of social inquiry have for a long time been centered on technologies such as surveys, interviews and focus groups. However, the emergence of new forms of digital data and the spread of software programs to harness and visualize them, is currently changing this picture. A new mode of knowledge creation— digital methods—has begun to shape practices of social inquiry in various settings and its increasing importance comes with a need to reflect on its epistemological features. The core claim of this talk is that there is an unexplored theoretical potential in interpreting this mode of knowledge creation through the lens of valuation theory and neo-pragmatic theories of experience and perception. More specifically, it aims to use these lines of research as a foundation for describing the visual outputs of digital methods as ‘web-visions’. This concept offers a different take on digital methods than existing vocabularies, and the chapter illustrates how it provides a useful basis for understanding recent experimentation with this mode of knowledge creation in the United Nations.

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