For this week’s readings we went over the article What would Feminist Data Visualization look like? and the chapter on Representation and the Necessity of Interpretation form Laura Kurgan. Both readings invite us to rethink about the way data is shown in maps, in order to understand that it is presented for a reason and purpose and therefore there will always be a bias and therefore a relationship of power involved.
The first article touches in the concept of how feminist standpoint theory would approach data visualization, mentioning that all knowledge is socially situated and that the perspectives of oppressed groups including women, minorities and others are systematically excluded from “general” knowledge. Despite that, it suggests interesting approaches that creators should think when trying to develop “unbiased” maps according to feminist data viz, such as developing new ways to represent uncertainty, invent new ways to reference the material economy behind the data and create ways to make dissent possible so we can find ways to go back to the material that originated that visualization.
The second reading starts by breaking down the perception that satellite images analysis are somehow neutral and can be deliberately taken as statements. It mentions about the use of satellite images to justify the invasion on Iraq, proving this point. Accordingly, it states that there is no such thing as raw-data and suggests that working with data is a para-empiricism.
I believe that both readings prove their points. I really liked the suggestions on the Feminist article about new ways to present data that would clarify the choices and make the “bias” explicit. What if we visually problematized the provenance of the data? The interests behind the data? The stakeholders in the data? I believe that it is part of the visualization experience to highlight some aspects over others, according to the maps functionality. Thus is impossible not to create somehow biased maps. Accordingly, as creators, it is our responsibility to be aware of those choices and keep them explicit to the public.