Agile Ethics for Massified Research and Visualization

Neuhaus, Fabian and Webmoor, Timothy (2011) Agile Ethics for Massified Research and Visualization. Information, Communication and Society, 15 (1). pp. 43-65.


In this paper, the authors examine some of the implications of born-digital research
environments by discussing the emergence of data mining and the analysis of social
media platforms. With the rise of individual online activity in chat rooms, social networking
sites and micro-blogging services, new repositories for social science research
have become available in large quantities. Given the changes of scale that accompany
such research, both in terms of data mining and the communication of results, the
authors term this type of research ‘massified research’. This article argues that
while the private and commercial processing of these new massive data sets is far
from unproblematic, the use by academic practitioners poses particular challenges
with respect to established ethical protocols. These involve reconfigurations of the
external relations between researchers and participants, as well as the internal
relations that compose the identities of the participant, the researcher and that of
the data. Consequently, massified research and its outputs operate in a grey area of
undefined conduct with respect to these concerns. The authors work through the
specific case study of using Twitter’s public Application Programming Interface for
research and visualization. To conclude, this article proposes some potential best practices
to extend current procedures and guidelines for such massified research. Most
importantly, the authors develop these under the banner of ‘agile ethics’. The
authors conclude by making the counterintuitive suggestion that researchers make
themselves as vulnerable to potential data mining as the subjects who comprise
their data sets: a parity of practice.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: ethics, visualization, e-science, social media platforms, data intensity, Twitter
Subject(s): Science & technology management
Centre: Institute for Science, Innovation and Society
Related URLs:
Date Deposited: 27 Feb 2012 16:39
Last Modified: 23 Oct 2015 14:06

Actions (login required)

Edit View Edit View