Digital Methods for Number Critique
Carolin Gerlitz, Anne Helmond, Fernando van der Vlist, Esther Weltevrede,
Maria Carmela Catone, Jan Alyne Barbosa, Lieke Kersten, Britt Boss, Elena Osti, Marco Berlinguer, Tim Niehe, Nico Lopez Coombs, Henk Ruigrok van der Werven, Christina Giannouli Kyrimi, Sophie de Groot, Daniel Carter, Jess Perriam, Giuseppe Reale, Richa Watts, Daniela Demarchi, Clemens Buchegger, Deniz Gülsöken, Nicola Romagnoli, and Brittany McGillivray.
Initial project pitch (abstract)
In this project we will explore the use of digital methods for doing number critique. We will build upon approaches from the emerging fields of software and platform studies as well as digital methods. We ask how numbers are composed, presented, and how they circulate to understand their role as software and platform features. Drawing on medium-specific methods we explore numbers as issues, tracing their spread, presence, and ecologies. In terms of issues and questions, the project extends into four main directions: (i) numbers as elements of platform politics, (ii) number ecologies, (iii) metrics as issues, and (iv) types of metrics. These four directions can serve as sub-projects. Inspired by a previous 2015 Digital Methods Winter School project (People’s Dashboard), our main objective is to develop a metrics dashboard, allowing users to explore metrics as elements of platform politics and number ecologies. Can we detect and show controversies around metrics, their composition and circulation, relations to third parties and other stakeholders, their enrichment, and so on? Finally, we also wish to draw attention to the question of what do metrics (not) show?