Restoring Interdependence to the Data Ecosystem
How might we nurture a data ecosystem grounded in interdependence, care, and human connection, rather than our current system of consumption and extraction?
Through guided questions and art, technologists are invited to reflect on how their work might contribute to, or subvert, a data ecosystem built upon principles of extraction and profit.
What is the data ecosystem?
I use the term “data ecosystem” to describe the interconnected, interdependent network of relationships between:
people who produce data, and the resulting data
people who create and deploy new technologies using data, and the resulting technologies
private companies, governments, and other organizations that use data and/or data-driven technology
data privacy laws (e.g., GDPR), or lack thereof
interpersonal, cultural, and sociopolitical contexts that shape our positions within the data ecosystem
About the zine
Can truly just technology exist? Creating this zine helped me distill my thoughts on the question and interrogate how my own work might cause harm. Though a question as nuanced as this one will always have a complex and fluctuating answer, I ultimately believe that we can only create just technology if we address our broader system of harm propped up by militarism, imperialism, and racial capitalism.
This work follows and is inspired by the Just Transition framework of envisioning a regenerative economy, Ruha Benjamin’s work on abolitionist technology, Octavia Butler’s principle of “God is Change” in her Parable of the Sower series, my previous UX work on consent interfaces, and a legacy of Black, Indigenous, queer, and disabled abolitionists.
This zine was submitted as a provocation to the 2022 Prefiguring and Resisting Tech: Towards Just Transitions workshop, hosted by Just Transitions Initiative (UC San Diego).
I welcome your comments, questions, and feedback regarding the zine on this form. Please also reach out if you are interested in discussion or future collaboration.