Thompson TL (2017) Digital data and professional practices: A posthuman exploration of new responsibilities and tensions. 3rd International ProPEL Conference 2017, 14.06.2017-16.06.2017.
This paper examines how decision-making practices and responsibilities of professional workers are being reconfigured as work is increasingly outsourced and delegated to digital devices. The growing datafication of professional work is evident in how it is distributed across crowdsourced data and predictive analytics; bots that automate online tasks; and new regimes of accountability and surveillance implicit in many digital interactions. Gray (2016) describes datafication as “ways of seeing and engaging with the world by means of digital data” (para 3). To examine this phenomena, I report on the findings of a research project of an online post-graduate course that examined how the use of learning analytics, coupled with social network analysis and visualization software, informed both research and online teaching practices. I draw on posthumanist heuristics to reframe notions of data and the ensuing collateral effects of datafication. Issuing fundamental challenges to how we envision the human actors and their relational surround, posthumanism asks us to attend to the everyday things of our world. I conclude by considering the new fluencies required by professionals as they engage in new forms of “data speak” and “data work”: and the subsequent deskilling and upskilling of professional work.