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Published onMar 16, 2020

It’s often said that a book is the project of many hands. This saying is certainly true for this book. A debt of gratitude is owed to Patsy Baudoin, who first wrote to put the two of us in touch. Without her email message, this project would not exist.

This project also would not exist without all the activists, journalists, artists, designers, engineers, scientists, scholars, and teachers whose work we describe in this book, as well as the numerous additional projects that we discussed during the writing process, but ultimately did not have the space to include. Your work is an inspiration.

We remain ever appreciative of the dozens of people who reviewed and commented on our online manuscript draft. As we said when we posted the draft, we believe that their direct and critical words were tokens of generosity and votes of confidence in our ability to hear and be transformed by our readers. Among these readers were Alexandrina Agloro, Kecia Ali, Jessica Bellamy, Ruha Benjamin, Rahul Bhargava, Rena Bivens, Alison Booth, Carol Chiodo, Patricio Davila, Michelle Doerr, Jordan Ellenberg, Jack Gieseking, Ben Green, Ksenia Gueletina, Oliver Haimson, Jaron Heard, Anna Lauren Hoffman, Hannah House, Pratyusha Kalluri, Os Keyes, David Kim, Heather Krause, Nick Lally, Christopher Linzy, Liz Losh, Momin Malik, Laura Mandell, Surya Mattu, Elijah Meeks, Rebecca Michelson, Susana Morris, Ron Morrison, Maria Munir, Bethany Nowviskie, Yoehan Oh, Thomas Padilla, Jonas Parnow, Margaret Pearce, Firaz Peer, Tawana Petty, Anne Pollock, Miriam Posner, Zara Rahman, Gabriela Rodriguez Beron, James Scott-Brown, Nicole Siggins, Erik Simpson, Nikki Stevens, Zach Van Stanley, Annette Vee, Fernanda Viégas, Lee Vinsel, Maya Wagoner, Jacque Wernimont, and Sarah Yerima. We hope that the revised version of this book has demonstrated how much we have valued and learned from your thoughts.

In particular, we would like to thank Marian Dörk, Aristea Fotopoulou, Shannon Mattern, Yanni Loukissas, and Seeta Peña Gangadharan in their capacity as official online peer reviewers. They demonstrated the best of academic generosity in their willingness to join our experimental review process and make their impressively comprehensive comments in full public view.

We would also like to thank Sasha Costanza-Chock, Alexis Lothian, Zara Rahman, and the other anonymous peer reviewers of our book proposal and manuscript draft. Your generous and generative comments pushed us to clarify each and every one of the ideas we express in these pages.

Our editors, Patsy Baudoin and David Lobenstine, helped provide shape and cohesion to this book at crucial phases of the writing process.

Our student research assistants, Isabel Carter at Emerson College and Zoe Wangstrom at Georgia Tech, both contributed countless hours to ensuring the images, references, and other details in this book are accurate and complete.

At the MIT Press, Gita Manaktala remained steadfast in her support of this project, always responding to our queries with attention and detail. Catherine Ahearn devoted countless hours to creating the online version of the manuscript draft. Jessica Lipton, Nhora Lucia Serrano, and Kyle Gipson provided invaluable editorial assistance. Melinda Rankin carefully copyedited each line of this book. Mandy Keifetz created the detailed index that concludes the volume.

We would also like to thank David Weinberger, who first solicited the project, enthusiastically backed it from the first iteration, and reviewed multiple drafts of our book proposal; Mushon Zer-Aviv, who believed in and supported this work in its earliest and most nascent stages, and even used his own invited talk at Data & Society to uplift this work; Alison Booth and Liz Losh, whose early endorsement of the project enabled it to receive crucial external funding; and our contacts, colleagues, and friends who have read and commented on portions of this manuscript: Mariel García-Montes, Regina Larrea, Sarah Blackwood, Nihad Farooq, Matthew K. Gold, Yanni Loukissas, Miriam Posner, Kyla Schuller, Karen Weingarten, and Jacqueline Wernimont.

In addition, we would like to thank those who have directly aided us to have the courage to do the hard, uncomfortable, and urgent work of accounting for how structural forces manifest themselves in our own identities and everyday experiences, especially Kimberly Seals Allers, Jenn Roberts of Versed Education, and Chris Miller, as well as our interlocutors in our scholarly communities and online. You have taught us that anti-oppression work is never finished, but also that there is joy in the struggle, even when so much of the struggle is to take responsibility for one’s own position within the matrix of domination.

We would like to thank the people and institutions that have extended us invitations to talk about this project and offered their own thoughts and ideas in return. These include Eric Gordon and the Engagement Lab at Emerson College, Ethan Zuckerman and the MIT Center for Civic Media, Dietmar Offenhuber at Northeastern University, Elizabeth Maddock Dillon and the NULab at Northeastern University, Kevin Hamilton and the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana, Meghan Kelly and the University of Wisconsin Geography Department, Pablo Rey and Think Commons, Mariana Santos and Chicas Poderosas, Mushon Zer-Aviv and ISVIS, Isabelle Mireilles and the Information+ Conference, Enrico Bertini and Mortiz Stefaner of the Data Stories podcast, Jonathan Schwabisch of the PolicyViz podcast, the American Association of Geographers, the University of Southern Maine, Winnie Poster and the Labor Tech reading group, Cecilia Balbin and the Universidad Católica de Argentina, Paul Benzon and Skidmore College, Rebecca Munson and the Princeton Center for Digital Humanities, the Data Justice Conference, Thai Jungpanich and Civichub, Spencer Keralis and the rest of the organizing team for Digital Frontiers 2018, Tarez Graban and the Digital Scholars Discussion Group at the University of Florida, Sara Ortolani at the London College of Communication, Jonathan Gray and the Department of Digital Humanities at King’s College London, Diane Jakacki and the Program in Comparative Humanities at Bucknell University, Mimi Onuoha and the eyeo 2019 conference, the Data Power 2019 conference, and the organizers of the IEEE VIS 2016 Workshop on Visualization for the Digital Humanities, which gave us the first opportunity to write together.

We would also like to thank our own institutions. By the time this book is published, we will have each moved on to new positions—Catherine in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT, and Lauren in the Departments of English and Quantitative Theory & Methods at Emory University. But when we began this project, Catherine worked in the Journalism Department at Emerson College and Lauren worked in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication at Georgia Tech. We will remain forever appreciative of the support provided by our colleagues at our first institutional homes: Miranda Banks, André Brock, Betsy DiSalvo, Carl DiSalvo, Nihad Farooq, Lina Maria Giraldo, Eric Gordon, Narin Hassan, Janet Kolodzy, Chris Le Dantec, Todd Michney, Paul Mihailidis, Susana Morris, Janet Murray, Brad Rittenhouse, Jacqueline Jones Royster, Richard Utz, Lauren Wilcox, Joycelyn Wilson, and Greg Zinman. Emerson students in the Data Visualization classes and Women in Journalism class taught by Diane Mermigas offered excellent feedback on chapter drafts. The institutions of Georgia Tech and Emerson College should also be thanked for their financial support of this book.

We would also like to thank Dr. Norman Stearns and Irma Mann Stearns, who supported this project with the Emerson College Mann Stearns Award, as well as the American Council of Learned Societies, which supported this project with a 2019–2020 ACLS Collaborative Fellowship. The year of research leave made possible by the ACLS fellowship enabled this project to advance at a crucial moment in our careers.

Last but not least, we are deeply grateful to our partners, Dave Raymond and Greg Zinman, for their intellectual contributions, as well as their (significant) household and family contributions that made this project possible. We are also grateful to our parents, Janet and Fred D’Ignazio and Diane and Francis Klein, for teaching us to love learning and do work that makes a difference in the world. We also thank our partners, our parents, and our children’s additional caregivers, grandparents Mike and Susan Raymond, Cuban grandparents Mayda and Coco Marrero, María Lopez Rodas, Milagros Banciella-Dickie and Melissa Gault, for giving us the time to write.

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