Big Data as Governmentality in International Development: Digital Traces, Algorithms, and Altered Visibilities

Mikkel Flyverbom, Anders Koed Madsen, Andreas Rasche

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Statistics have long shaped the field of visibility for the governance of development projects. The introduction of big data has altered the field of visibility. Employing Dean's “analytics of government” framework, we analyze two cases—malaria tracking in Kenya and monitoring of food prices in Indonesia. Our analysis shows that big data introduces a bias toward particular types of visualizations. What problems are being made visible through big data depends to some degree on how the underlying data is visualized and who is captured in the visualizations. It is also influenced by technical factors such as distance between mobile phone towers and the truth claims that gain legitimacy.
Statistics have long shaped the field of visibility for the governance of development projects. The introduction of big data has altered the field of visibility. Employing Dean's “analytics of government” framework, we analyze two cases—malaria tracking in Kenya and monitoring of food prices in Indonesia. Our analysis shows that big data introduces a bias toward particular types of visualizations. What problems are being made visible through big data depends to some degree on how the underlying data is visualized and who is captured in the visualizations. It is also influenced by technical factors such as distance between mobile phone towers and the truth claims that gain legitimacy.
LanguageEnglish
JournalThe Information Society
Volume33
Issue number1
Pages35-42
ISSN0197-2243
DOIs
StatePublished - 2017

Keywords

  • Big data
  • International development
  • Governmentality
  • Knowledge production
  • Algorithms

Cite this

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Big Data as Governmentality in International Development : Digital Traces, Algorithms, and Altered Visibilities. / Flyverbom, Mikkel; Madsen, Anders Koed; Rasche, Andreas.

In: The Information Society, Vol. 33, No. 1, 2017, p. 35-42.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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