Theory

In this theme, we aim to strengthen and advance the Human Data Interaction conceptual framework, and to better understand what recommendations for research and policy should be made on the basis of HDI and this network’s projects. (For more on the early work on the conceptual framework of HDI, designed primarily to guide the practices of those developing data-intensive systems, and set out around 2013 in papers by Mortier and others, see here as well as a February 2020 survey paper by Victorelli et al.). We funded three projects, as follows.

More-Than-Human Data Interaction (MoTh-HDI)
Angela Daly (U. Dundee)

Our project aims to enrich Human Data Interaction (HDI) theory and practice by looking beyond the ‘human’ hitherto at the centre of HDI analysis. By drawing on critical and socio-legal theory on the limitations of centring the (individual) human as a bearer of rights and responsibilities including in digital contexts, we aim to advance HDI theory and practice by looking to other actors that may interact with data, informing a legal and ethical approach towards them, what we call the ‘more-than-human’ data interaction or ‘MoTh-HDI’.  We aim to critique the notion of human at the centre of HDI in 2 ways. First, by engaging with critical scholarship on the overrepresentation of the human, or ‘natural person’ in western legal systems, usually embodying assumptions of the human individual as a white, able-bodied, adult man. We aim to take account of alternative approaches to the human, particularly approaches that critique the mastery, calculability and determinability of the human from Black, Indigenous, feminist, and disability studies, in order to deepen HDI theory.  Second, we aim to advance HDI theory further by moving beyond the hierarchy of the human, or anthropocentrism, by taking account of the ‘more-than-human’ which also interacts with data, including members of the natural world animals, plants – and even natural phenomena such as rivers which have been recognised in some jurisdictions as legal persons. This also accords with some non-western approaches to personality and collectives as members of the eco-system which have hitherto largely been ignored by western approaches. We will also engage with the possibility of data and machines giving rise to new persons in the form of artificial intelligence or AI. 

Extending Human Data Interaction (HDI) theory in partnership with diverse voices from the cross-sector community and international interdisciplinary researchers
Prof. Sarah Hayes (U. Wolverhampton)

In this research, we will critique and extend HDI as a conceptual framework. Through our objectives listed below, the 3 HDI tenets of agency, legibility and negotiability will be critiqued and advanced from diverse perspectives across multiple, cross-disciplinary, cross-sector angles and agencies to enable the developed HDI framework is to be widely meaningful. Building on key findings from our recent EPSRC-funded HDI project, that examined the role of data and disadvantage in regional digital skills agendas, we will bring to the HDI tenets a set of 1) local cross-sector voices from the wider community, and 2) interdisciplinary opinions from international academics. People from the 2 groups will partner with us in this research, which focuses on how these diverse participants, and those they work with, both see and interact with data. As such, our recommendations for extending the HDI framework will be drawn from evidence within and outside of academia, based on theoretical questions grounded in, and drawn from, results from HDI research we have already undertaken, alongside interdisciplinary literature. 

The Feminist Human-Data Interaction toolkit: Critiquing and extending HDI by centering peoples’ safety
Dr Angelika Strohmayer (U. Northumbria) et al.

Our aim is to critique and extend Human-Data Interaction (HDI) as a conceptual framework to strengthen it through feminist explorations of its use for minimising ‘abusability’ of data and data-intensive technologies to promote safety in digital and non-digital spaces; centering particularly those people who are experiencing different forms of oppressions from systems, society, or legal frameworks and as such have unique ways of interacting with data and data-driven systems.