Organization & objectives





To encourage interactions between different communities involved in DMT research and development, we aim to meet three objectives:


In order to encourage discussions between social scientists and practitioners experimenting with DMTs, we will organize a seminar in Paris, which is open to researchers, designers and postgraduate students. Spanning from February 2014 to July 2014, the seminar’s central contribution will be the collaborative construction of a framework to help social scientists to tackle the task of using visualized relational data to support or invalidate knowledge claims in their research. The construction of this framework will be derived from literature presentations and the showcasing of past or ongoing research projects led by social scientists applying DMTs.

Our 3h30 seminar will be structured around a series of themes that address different aspects of doing social science with DMTs (see the seminar program for themes). Individual sessions will consist of the presentation and discussion of 2-4 relevant scientific articles (1h), a presentation and discussion by an invited guest of past or ongoing work (1h30) and a final, shorter presentation/feedback session by a younger researcher of ongoing work (45m). The seminar is sponsored by the CorTexT Platform of IFRIS and the Medialab of Sciences Po, and will be hosted by the Ecole Nationale Supérieure de la Création Industrielle.

The literature presentations will introduce academic and para-academic literature, provided it is relevant and stimulates discussion. Chosen texts will address the construction, interpretation and use of DMTs in the social or natural sciences. They will highlight different ways of knowing and ways of working with data visualizations, sensitizing participants to issues related to selecting data, tools and parameters, constructing interpretative pathways, developing a reflexive understanding of results and communicating these results to different audiences (peers, clients, lay public etc.).

The work presentations will revolve around past or ongoing research projects using digital mapping techniques related to the theme of the given seminar. The idea is to see how fellow researchers effectively use data visualization in their research, with a particular focus on the heuristics and tacit knowledge that assist them in their work. Emphasis will be put on the difficulties encountered when using DMTs and the strategies deployed to circumvent them. We plan to invite both senior and junior researchers and practitioners to present their work. Mixing theoretical and pragmatic aspects, presentations should focus on how texts and projects can help us refine our understanding of DMTs in scientific inquiry.


Providing feedback to researchers involved in the theoretical and technical development of DMTs will be achieved through the active documentation of what goes on during the seminar. To begin with, we will film the presentations of invited lecturers and post the films on our website. In addition, two rapporteurs will be appointed to take notes during each session. Notes will be restructured to summarize and highlight the main themes, threads and references that came out of discussions. Similarly, the rapporteurs will record what is said during the discussions that follow the work presentations in order to aggregate issues encountered by researchers handling DMTs. Documents will be put online on the seminar’s webpage.

Documenting these processes is essential. It feeds into future discussions and the construction of a final online report/handbook. The report will provide a field manual for researchers grappling with DMTs. It will also strive to identify the practices, critiques and needs voiced by researchers during presentation and discussions. These offer precious indications of user preoccupations and can inform the refinement or development of relevant functionalities and tools. Consequently, the outcome of the seminar is also of interest for researchers involved in DMT development at the CortTexT platform, the Médialab and elsewhere.


Supporting exchanges between social scientists, designers and DMT developers in the greater Paris region is the third goal of our project. Practitioners and researchers located in the Institut Francilien Recherche Innovation Société (IFRIS), Sciences Po and the Ecole Nationale Supérieure de la Création Industrielle have all shown interest in the creation of a space to meet, learn from and discuss with colleagues interested in DMTs. Researchers coordinating and participating in the seminar will strive to support collaborative projects such as publication projects or prototype development. Thus, the seminar will promote the advancement of a shared multidisciplinary research culture related to digital mapping tools. The organization of a final two-day barcamp will be the crowning event to discuss findings, reflect on what has been achieved (publications, field manual, functionalities) and plan the next steps.