Emerging connections: the affinity map

Last night the ENAC (broadly speaking, the Faculty  of Architecture at the Swiss Institute of Technology in Lausanne) had the pleasure to reflect on their own collaborative networks. Through the realisation of a bespoke project named “affinity map” realised by my friend and colleague Dario Rodighiero , the ENAC had a first touch-and-feel of how their policies of collaboration and mutual support have (or have not!) worked.

Dario’s main objective is to “make the invisible visible”. In times where data and big data pressure businesses and academic alike, Dario’s tool is inspiring; it has certainly forced each component of the map to reflect on their own work and behaviour. We can picture some relieved faces of lecturers and researchers (“yes! I have loads of connections!”) and some others a bit more ashamed. The affinity map is based on the process of gathering and meticulous organisation and display (visualisation) of ‘messy data’, coming from people’s work. The map is much closer to reality than the shiny world of Data Science wants us to believe for we deal quotidie with messy data.

 

 

The affinity map showcased last night makes us rethink:

  1. Governance
  2. Performativity

Governance

One way or another, we tend to be under pressure; we need to collaborate. Before, colaboration would very much be interpreted as weekly meetings with the team at work, monthly meetings with the division and perhaps Christmas parties with the company/institution. Now, collaboration is becoming part of KPIs and most certainly, there is no project and no institution that doesn’t strive for the best possible results through collaboration. We are being asked to collaborate to win prizes, collaboratively review RFPs, submit inter-disciplinary and collaborative research proposals to increase our chances to win etc… Yes, we are under  pressure, and changing the habit of ‘pretending to collaborate’ to a habit of ‘true collaboration’ is tough.  There is very little knowledge on how to monitor collaboration. Dario’s visualisation, hopefully, will become a useful tool to understand the full extent of collaboration and, also, understand how it also translates into efficiency and competitive advantage. It might sound scary but, willingly or not, we have embraced business logics of efficiency, exposure and global reach.

 

Performativity

How can data perform a new reality? This question is far from clear. However, what we see in this very quick and simple video isn’t only the translation of some very complex data into a nice dataviz project; it is also a whole new way of understanding the working of a small world, a lab, an institution or a company. The lack of collaboration or the wealth of networks of collaborations are translated into an algorithm that codifies the institutions’  ‘willingness’ to collaborate. The tool is performed through data; the academics’ were forced to look reflexively into their own practices. The affinity map certainly raises tough questions and it certainly brings up possible discussions on the discursive formation of collaboration and can have unknown -disciplinary- consequences (more policies?).

Networks of academics, their works and their networks of supervisions is a fascinating matter that opens the door to reflections over the impact of such a tool on universities’ research and teaching frameworks and policies, on governance and, most certainly, on the ethics of transposing collaboration and inter-disciplinarity into an eye-catching visualisation. All in all, a pretty awesome job

 

 

” Lack of data on sexual rights leaves millions of girls “invisible” – report”

********Article copied from Reuters Foundation*******

Author:  Lin Taylor

We are reposting an article on lack of data on sexual rights as published on the Reuters Foundation Website on Monday, 3 October 2016 00:00 GMT.

“LONDON, Oct 3 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Millions of girls are left “invisible” because of a lack of data, a children’s charity said on Monday, and the absence of accurate statistics on issues such as sexual violence means policymakers cannot draw up effective plans to help them.

There is no data that fully captures the daily realities of girls in poor communities, Plan International said in a report, including why girls drop out of school or how many become pregnant because of sexual violence.

“We do count how many girls start school, but we actually don’t count how many girls leave school,” said Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, CEO of Plan International.

“We also don’t have any data on why they leave school – whether they were forced into marriage, whether they became pregnant, or were sexually assaulted at school,” she said in an interview with the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“It’s leaving a lot of girls invisible.”

Globally it is estimated over 2 million girls under the age of 15 become mothers each year, but the number is uncertain as official data tends to only track births of women aged 15 to 49 even though girls can get pregnant from age 11 or so onwards.

UNICEF estimates around 150 million girls around the world have been sexually assaulted.

Since talking about sexual violence or reproductive rights remains a taboo in some communities, Albrectsen said, collecting accurate statistics on these issues is the most challenging, as there are “political and cultural hurdles to overcome.”

Without data, intervention programmes cannot effectively improve the lives of girls who are most at risk, she added.

The report comes a year after world leaders agreed on an ambitious new set of global goals designed to improve lives in all countries by 2030.

The U.N.’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals with 169 targets are a roadmap to end poverty and hunger, fight gender inequality and conquer climate change over the next 15 years.

Albrectsen said governments must invest in data collection, and capture meaningful statistics that reflect what girls in their communities are facing, such as pregnancies, rape and school drop-outs.

“With the availability of data, the lived realities of girls will become a lot more visible to policymakers,” she said.”

(Reporting by Lin Taylor @linnytayls, Editing by Ros Russell; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters that covers humanitarian issues, conflicts, global land and property rights, modern slavery and human trafficking, women’s rights, and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org to see more stories)