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Morgan Currie

Morgan Currie
Name
Dr Morgan Currie
Title
Lecturer in Data & Society
Department
Science Technology and Innovation Studies School of Social and Political Science University of Edinburgh
Address
2.88 Old Surgeons' Hall High School Yards Edinburgh UK
Telephone
0131 650 6394
Email
Research Interests
Administrative Data, open data, data activism, Democratic Theory, local governance and grassroots democracy, data infrastructures
URL
http://www.sps.ed.ac.uk/staff/science_technology_and_innovation_studies/morgan_currie

Biography

My research engages with the relationship between data and democracy – how data infrastructures condition the possibility for forms of democratic governance, civic behavior, and political struggle. My recent work analyses new forms of datafication in city governments through digital tools that subject administrative records to visualisation, algorithmic processing and other machine-readable functions. I also draw from political theories of democracy, including American pragmatism and post-structuralist critical theory, to understand how civil society can use data as a tool to contest political issues. I use fieldwork, interviews, and case study analysis to ask how these new information cultures take shape, and how they might open – or foreclose – democratic decision-making.

I earned a Ph.D. in Information Studies from University of California, Los Angeles, in 2017, and a Masters in New Media from the University of Amsterdam in 2010. Prior to my Lectureship I was was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Digital Civil Society Lab at Stanford University.

Research

Research Interests

Administrative Data, open data, data activism, Democratic Theory, local governance and grassroots democracy, data infrastructures

Current Projects

Edinburgh Culture & Communities Mapping Project

The Culture and Communities Mapping Project uses open data and participatory mapping to locate cultural and artistic spaces in the city. Through community workshops and pop-up events, we ask participants about the value and significance of a diverse range of city venues and about the challenges and opportunities of supporting cultural space. One outcome of this research will be an open-access, community-created map that includes city cultural assets, hubs and flexible spaces of past and present. The map will be used to discuss and analyse gentrification, arts equity and inclusion, and accessibility to culture in Edinburgh and surrounding areas.

Project webpage here.

Coding Caring

Smart home devices are diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease and supervising children, pet avatars are watching over dementia patients, and chatbots are helping to treat veterans living with PTSD. Going forward, such “Intimate Al” will continue to supplement and replace human care on the promise that serious social problems can be solved by developing technologies of care that are cheap and accessible. But Intimate Al affects core human values: it challenges how we think of privacy, compassion, trust, and the very concept of care itself. This workshop addresses conceptual, ethical, and political issues of coding caring before Intimate Al becomes widely implemented; it ams to inform the debates taking place in policy, industry, the academy, and the public sphere about what role Al can and should play in caregiving.

Project webpage here.

Datafication of City Records

This research draws on my dissertation to ask about the consequences of data-centric policies inside city governments on local forms of democratic participation. While administrations have long collected statistics for the express purpose of creating quantitative accounts for administrative decision-making, the past decade has seen all manner of administrative information rendered as data, and so subject to quantification and machine-readable functions. City governments have embraced these statistical tools to track performance, set goals, justify budget expenditures, direct public services, and engage the public. Datafication raises new questions about public accountability, democratic representation, and civil liberty that demand exploring.  

PUBLICATIONS

Currie, M. (Forthcoming). Hacking administration: A report from Los Angeles. In Hunsinger J. and A. Schrock (eds.), Making Our World: The Hacker and Maker Movements in Context, New York: Peter Lang.

Currie, M. (2018). A dual valuation of openness. Proceedings of the 19th Annual International Conference on Digital Government Research. Delft, The Netherlands, 30 May – 1 June.

Currie, M. (2017). The datafication of transparency work: A report from Los Angeles. Proceedings for the Interactions Symposium on Big Data. InterActions: UCLA Journal of Education and Information Studies, 13(2). https://escholarship.org/uc/item/73j1q5sp.

Data Activism and 'Agonistic Data'

This ongoing research analyses case studies of data activism. It also draws on archival theory and democratic political theory to differentiate between activist goals and methods. For instance, data collection can serve a deliberative, consensus-based function when it augments government data to increase the number of voices represented. A divergent political theory called agonistic pluralism argues that consensus politics merely mask how power is rooted in society. Agonistic data practices do not seek reconciliation with official data but offer a parallel and distinct understanding of an issue. A third approach engages refusal of data collection as a generative critique of power that can reconfigure social and political relations.

PUBLICATIONS

Currie, M., & B. Paris (Forthcoming). What difference does data make? Data Management and Social Change. Online Information Review

Currie, M., & B. Paris. (2018). Back-ups for the future. Archival practices for data activism. Archives & Manuscripts. June.

Currie, M., B. Paris, I. Pasquetto, and J. Pierre (2016). The conundrum of police officer-involved homicides: Counter-data in Los Angeles County. Big Data & Society. 3.2: 2053951716663566. bds.sagepub.com.

Teaching

Undergraduate Teaching

Spring 2020 

Data, Design & the City (with James Stewart)

Postgraduate Teaching

Fall 2019

Technologies of Civic Participation 

Spring 2020

Internet, Society & Economy (with James Stewart)

Publications

Refereed Journal Articles

Currie, M & Hsu, U. "Performative Data: Cultures of Government Data Practice," Journal of Cultural Analytics (forthcoming 2019).

Currie, M., B. Paris, & Donovan, J. (2018) "What difference do data make? Data management and social change"Online Information Review, https://doi.org/10.1108/OIR-02-2018-0052

Currie, M., & B. Paris. (2018). Back-ups for the future. Archival practices for data activism. Archives & Manuscripts. June.

Currie, M., B. Paris, I. Pasquetto, and J. Pierre (2016). The conundrum of police officer-involved homicides: Counter-data in Los Angeles County. Big Data & Society. 3.2: 2053951716663566. bds.sagepub.com.

Fidler, B., & Currie, M. (2016). Infrastructure, Representation, and Historiography in BBN’s Arpanet Maps. IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, 38(3), 44–57. https://doi.org/10.1109/MAHC.2015.69.

Fidler, B. and M. Currie (2015). The Production and interpretation of ARPANET maps. IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, 37(1), 44-55, January-March, DOI: 10.1109/MAHC.2015.16.

Kelty, C., A. Panofsky, R. Crooks, M. Currie, S. Erickson, P. Garcia, S. Wood, and M. Wartenbe (2014). Seven dimensions of contemporary participation disentangled. Journal of the American Society for Information and Technology, 66(3), 474–488. https://doi.org/10.1002/asi.23202

Book Chapters

Currie, M. (2018). Hacking administration: A report from Los Angeles. In Hunsinger J. and A. Schrock (eds.), Making Our World: The Hacker and Maker Movements in Context, New York: Peter Lang.

Currie, M. (2012). The feminist critique: Mapping controversy in Wikipedia. In Berry, D. M. (ed.), Understanding Digital Humanities, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012, pp. 224-248.

Op-Eds, Proceedings, & Book Reviews

Currie, M. (2018). A dual valuation of openness. Proceedings of the 19th Annual International Conference on Digital Government Research. Delft, The Netherlands, 30 May – 1 June.

Paris , B. S., and Currie, M. (2018). Buried, altered, silenced: 4 ways government climate information has changed since Trump took office, The Conversation, 21 March. http://theconversation.com/buried-altered-silenced-4-ways-government-climate-information-has-changed-since-trump-took-office-92323

Currie, M. (2017). The datafication of transparency work: A report from Los Angeles. Proceedings for the Interactions Symposium on Big Data. InterActions: UCLA Journal of Education and Information Studies, 13(2). https://escholarship.org/uc/item/73j1q5sp.

Paris, B. S., and Currie, M. (2017). How the “guerrilla archivists” saved history – and are doing it again under Trump. The Conversation, February 21http://theconversation.com/how-the-guerrilla-archivists-saved-history-and-are-doing-it-again-under-trump-72346.

Currie, M., B. Paris, I. Pasquetto, J. Pierre, and A. Sands. (2015). The Police officer-involved homicide database project. Proceedings to the 2015 iConference, Newport, CA.

Fidler, B. and M. Currie (2015). Gateways: Historical underpinnings of a single Internet. Proceedings to the 2015 iConference, Newport Beach, CA.

Currie, M. (2015). Review: Open standards and the digital age: History, ideology, and networks by Andrew L. Russell. InterActions: UCLA Journal of Education and Information Studies, 11(2), Retrieved from: http://escholarship.org/uc/item/19d2h79x.

Currie, M. (2013). Review: Paper machines: About cards & catalogs, 1548-1929 by Markus Krajewski. InterActions: UCLA Journal of Education and Information Studies, 9(1), Retrieved from: http://escholarship.org/uc/item/07h1s2w7.