DISCUSSING SCIENCE: To say that many were puzzled is not to say anything – data seminar at Tampere

16-17, August 2016, our SAND fellows – Ayako Shimada, Anna Vladimirova and Virpi Mettiäinen (fmr. Timonen) – visited the “Possibilities of ‘data’ in social research” seminar held at the University of Tampere. There were 42 scholars from different universities across Finland and the world attending this seminar not to mention many more people visiting the open lectures. The invited speakers were Professor Bernadette Baker (Queensland University of Technology, Australia), Professor Mikko Lehtonen (School of Communication, Media and Theatre, University of Tampere), Professor Mirka Koro-Ljungberg (Ph.D., University of Helsinki) and Professor Eva Bendix Petersen (Department of People and Technology, Roskilde University, Denmark).

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The aim of the seminar was to disrupt data that is known, make them unknown, familiar data unfamiliar, break the conventional research rules and disturb the normative ways of collecting data. To say that many researchers were puzzled is not to say anything. The provocative talks of the speakers did not give many answers, rather, created more inspiring questions, which are likely to keep their shape of inquiry.

At the same time, we discussed the troubling matter of legitimacy of data, that is yet becoming and how to keep undoing your data, if the academic world says “No, that’s a wrong way!” We also talked about temporality and relationality of data, how to think and live data, the ethical issues and effects of data on scholars.

According to the seminar’s schedule, we had a combination of presentations and workshops with the professors. There were 4 workshop groups with a different professor in each of them. Our own was led by Mirka Koro-Ljungberg. Some impressions from us:

Anna Vladimirova: “The number of ways one can experiment with data was a pleasant revelation for me personally as well as the fact that a researcher has to forget about analysis for a while and concentrate more on data. What is data, when is data, how data do? I’m glad we could visit this seminar, which was definitely a sort of boost for our present and, hopefully, future writing!”

Virpi Mettiäinen: “The most important thing for me was to find the playfulness of research, as it can be frustrating and depressing at times. Just to have a bit more space to move about within the theories, knowledge and data. That’s exactly what I came to realize during this seminar. The overall impression was that they accomplished in creating a safe and open space for researchers.”

Ayako Shimada: “Rethinking the notion of data is not legitimatized nor established, but still a controversial, frustrating, troubling and conflicting space in academia. This attempt, positioned in post-qualitative research of social science, is an attempt to expand ontological and epistemological arena of Western science from within. The seminar left me with uneasy questions such as: How should I understand this attempt in relation to post-colonial works towards epistemological and ontological pluralization? How should my non-Western-scientific side of self be involved in engaging with this attempt?”

We would like to thank the organizers of the Summer Seminar for the wonderful opportunity to join, listen to, share, ask, answer, experiment and, of course, meet many interesting personalities.

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