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Data Power

Data Power

Radical Geographies of Control and Resistance

by Jim E. Thatcher and Craig M. Dalton

Series: Radical Geography

An introduction to learning how to protect ourselves and organise against Big Data

In recent years, popular media have inundated audiences with sensationalised headlines recounting data breaches, new forms of surveillance and other dangers of our digital age. Despite their regularity, such accounts treat each case as unprecedented and unique. This book proposes a radical rethinking of the history, present and future of our relations with the digital, spatial technologies that increasingly mediate our everyday lives.

From smartphones to surveillance cameras, to navigational satellites, these new technologies offer visions of integrated, smooth and efficient societies, even as they directly conflict with the ways users experience them. Recognising the potential for both control and liberation, the authors argue against both acquiescence to and rejection of these technologies.

Through intentional use of the very systems that monitor them, activists from Charlottesville to Hong Kong are subverting, resisting and repurposing geographic technologies. Using examples as varied as writings on the first telephones to the experiences of a feminist collective for migrant women in Spain, the authors present a revolution of everyday technologies. In the face of the seemingly inevitable dominance of corporate interests, these technologies allow us to create new spaces of affinity, and a new politics of change.

Jim E. Thatcher is Associate Professor of Urban Studies at the University of Washington Tacoma.

Craig M. Dalton is Assistant Professor of Global Studies and Geography at Hofstra University.

'A call to arms [...] sets out a clear, persuasive argument for the need to challenge the power of platforms and systems, and details the tools to do so. A thought-provoking read'

- Prof. Rob Kitchin, Maynooth University

‘The first non-technical guidebook on how to live with location data and it is a truly radical response for our times. Spatial data for us, not about us’ 

- Jeremy W. Crampton, Professor of Urban Data Analysis, Newcastle University

‘Brilliantly traces the closed loops of spatial data and suggests new escape routes, reminding us that our data can be remade to tell different stories’

- Professor Kate Crawford, author of ‘Atlas of AI: Power, Politics, and the Planetary Costs of Artificial Intelligence’

'The book that I’ve long been waiting for, one that takes a material approach to the data geographies informing and being informed by technologies of everyday life’

- Erin McElroy, Assistant Professor of American and Digital Studies at the University of Texas at Austin and cofounder of the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project

'Data Power is an activist handbook wrapped in a theoretical treatise inside a media manifesto. The authors have a lively set of suggestions that provide a welcome antidote to the temptations of resignation and complacency'

- Mark Andrejevic, Professor in the School of Media, Film, and Journalism at Monash University

List of Figures and Tables
Series Preface
List of Abbreviations
Introduction: Technology and the Axes of Hope and Fear
1. Life in the Age of Big Data
2. What Are Our Data, and What Are They Worth?
3. Existing Everyday Resistances
4. Contesting the Data Spectacle
5. Our Data Are Us, So Make Them Ours

Published by Pluto Press in Dec 2021
Paperback ISBN: 9780745340074

135mm x 215mm