Yang Liu

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Toronto, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 10130

Approve Date

April 8, 2021

Project Title

Liu, Yang (Toronto, U. of) "Virtuous Knowing and Data Texture: An Ethnography of Data-Driven Predictions in Canadian Nonprofits"

YANG LIU, then a graduate student at University of Toronto, Toronto, Onterio, received a grant in April 2021 to aid research on “Virtuous Knowing and Data Texture: An Ethnography of Data-Driven Predictions in Canadian Nonprofits,” supervised by Dr. Todd Sanders. This research focuses on the data marketplace, where the investment in the credibility of data prediction gets realized through the manufacture and exchange of data products. The grantee worked with data scientists and software engineers to investigate the process of knowledge production, through which information and records morph into analytics and insights. By looking at how data is made, the study aims to illustrate how such technical transformation is value-laden — how data became valuable and the broader implication of this value creation when humans are interpreted as features and pigeonholed into multiple columns. The research also noted the managing methodology of software development and data analysis and the action-based ethics embedded in making digital applications by looking closely at the two prevalent and encompassing concepts: Agile and Growth Hack. The data industry emphasizes Agile, a project management approach favouring quick and modularised software development rhythms. The growth hacking ideology aims to reduce user interaction friction to facilitate final purchase. These approaches are not merely technicalities within the data industry. They deal with the aesthetics and subtlety of how things should be done. The study reflects on how these three data practices reshape what could and should count as known, probable, and ethical.