Session 32

G5 Datafication of Asian Cities:  Seeing the City with Algorithms

All aspects of our life are being transformed into quantifiable  data, everything is a subject to datafication – this phenomenon called “computational turn” in social (behavioral) sciences has been criticized for  its excessive emphasis on “quantification” of very nuanced social data. At the same time the computer-aided methods reveal interesting patterns and aid social scientists in seeing a bigger picture of urban change. The aim of this session is to contribute to scholarly debate on computer-aided methods and practices of research – identifying the practical hindrances, methodological, ethical dilemmas and governance implications. At the same time posing several questions: Can the ongoing datafication be sustainable? How can we account for losers and winners of datafication in the city? What can we learn better and problematize differently with the computer-aided methods? Methodologically: how can we accurately translate social concreteness into abstract data? What are the compromises to be made? What comprises algorithmic thinking for understanding culture/society? How can we study culture through the critical reading of new types of data that are generated? How can we advance our understanding of the city  and its intricate relations through computational methods? This session concretely  aims not only at theoretical ruminations by scholars and researchers (practitioners), but also at (de)constructing the moralities of data production and specific dilemmas of governance  – underlying each concrete case.  The hope of this session is also to help the beginning scholars to overcome their epistemological fears (Schaferandvan Es, 2017) of algorithmic thought and to understand  the sensibilities and competences that are needed to study contemporary culture and city through data. The panel invites both methodological pieces and concrete case studies of datafication in Asian cities.