Visiting Fellow Presentation

Prof Guillaume Latzko-Toth – Datafication and its publics: a sociotechnical approach to data publics


Time: 12:00pm to 1:00pm

Date: Tuesday 7 June 2022

Format: In person – QUT Kelvin Grove campus, and online via Zoom

RSVP: By Monday 6 June via email to For in person attendance, room details will be provided after RSVP.

The “datafication” of society designates the increasingly pervasive role that the production, circulation, collection, and processing of data through digital technologies play in everyday life. This presentation will engage with a relatively neglected aspect in the scholarship on datafication: What publics are imagined in data production projects? Does this data reach actual publics? What issues mobilize them? In critical data studies, the term “datafied publics” stresses the algorithmic objectification of digital media publics through the data they generate. On the other hand, the heuristic concept of “data publics” seeks to draw attention to the publics constituted through datafication processes, i.e. social subjects interacting—or who are expected to interact—with data generated on/by them and/or available to them. The talk will elaborate upon preliminary findings of a 3-year research project conducted by a team of researchers at LabCMO. We conducted three case studies of Canadian organizations deploying data production, publishing or reuse strategies: The City of Montreal (an open data portal), Data for Good Montreal (a data-activist group), and Pulsar, a health research platform developed by Laval University in Quebec City. A sociotechnical approach combining document analysis, semi-structured interviews, and observation allowed us to compare data publics as they were expected (imagined) in these initiatives and the effective (empirical) publics that make use of the data.

Speaker bio:

Guillaume Latzko-Toth is a full Professor of communication and media studies at Laval University (Quebec City, Canada). He is a founding member and codirector of the Laboratory for Communication and the Digital (LabCMO) and a member of the Interuniversity Research Centre on Science and Technology (CIRST). Rooted in a Science and Technology Studies (STS) perspective, his research and publications have addressed topics such as users’ contribution to digital innovations – particularly early social media – and methodological and ethical issues related to research in digital contexts – notably qualitative inquiry based on “thick data”.