This week we watched videos of Cathy O’Neil and Safiya Umoja Noble discussing how data and algorithms, despite looking objective and neutral, actually reinforce cultural biases. It is important to be mindful of this, because data and algorithms play such a significant role in so many aspects of our information age, from guiding decisions about hiring and firing people, to determining policies for schools and police, to structuring the information that we get out of a Google search.
This blog post asks you to reflect on the relevance of these ideas to your own research project. You might not be working with “big data,” and you might not be working with an algorithm like what O’Neil and Noble talk about, but you are working with and analyzing information that may be shaped by biased attitudes.
Think about the research that you already have done and will need to do. How might cultural biases shape the ways in which the information on your topic is organized and presented?
In addition to thinking about how information is organized, reflect on your own process in researching and analyzing your topic. What priorities, emotions, or preconceived notions about your topic are you bringing to your research process, or to your analysis of your sources?
Write a 3-4 paragraph post reflecting on these questions. A successful post will be clearly written, well organized, and demonstrate a familiarity with the ideas in O’Neil’s and Noble’s talks as well as serious reflection on the questions.