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Degrowing data: valuing and practicing intentional data loss 
Marije Miedema (Rijksuniversiteit Groningen)
Stephanie Ketterer Hobbis (Wageningen University)
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Nanna Thylstrup
Combined Format Open Panel

Short Abstract:

This panel explores intentional data loss. Contributions engage with data loss practices, narratives, and values and how they can expose power structures but also provide space for resistance. A concluding interactive dialogue session links intentional data loss to degrowth for livable futures.

Long Abstract:

This combined format open panel seeks to decentre our need to accumulate data and the fear of its loss. For good reasons, much effort has been put into protecting, saving or securing diverse data, for example at cultural heritage sites, for personal digital archives or as part of seed banks. But what about the inverse? What about data practices, narratives and values focusing on, or even desiring data loss through deletion, deconstruction, decluttering, discarding or disconnecting (cf Hobbis and Hobbis 2021; Thylstrup 2022)?

The first session welcomes traditional papers (research papers, essays, reviews) but also more creative, playful, submissions (scripts, dialogues, audio/visual work). Contributions may ask questions like: When, why, and how is data loss practised and valued? Who benefits when data loss is (forcefully) prevented and why? Can there be a right to delete besides a legalized ‘right to be forgotten’ (cf Gupta and Naithani 2023)? How and when can intentional data loss be an expression of power and/or resistance against it (cf Liboiron and Lepawsky 2022)?

The second session consists of an interactive dialogue connecting the papers to degrowth debates, that are yet to find a clear position in STS scholarship. Reflecting the twofold goal of the degrowth debate, this session is concerned with an advancement of social theory and a social movement. Leaning on insights from degrowth debates, we first think through the capitalist dynamics (accumulation, extraction, abundance) surrounding fears of data loss. Secondly, we seek to uncover possibilities for connecting intentional data loss practices with degrowth initiatives. Could intentional data loss practices and values contribute to more liveable futures?

We are especially interested in case studies/contributions from diverse global contexts, epistemologies and ontologies and intend to combine our insights from the panel into a special issue/book, joint dialogic article, and/or more creative output.

Accepted contributions:

Session 1
Session 2