Civic Data Solidarity explored the stakes involved in gathering and sharing data on social issues that affect us all

Civic Data Solidarity

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Civic Data Solidarity

Overview Maps Blog Github Collaborators Resources Back to Top


September 2017 – October 2018

Civic Data Solidarity invited participants from organizations that generate and manage independent databases on a range of civil society issues to bring their data and learn how to create interactive maps to “untangle complex relations that impact them and their communities.” Through workshops and Graph Commons, Burak’s free online collaborative platform for making, analyzing and publishing network maps, participants created bridges and connections between different sets of data across organizations and even political interests. Ultimately, the goal was to teach people how to use mapping and visualization tools to strengthen communities, connect resources and knowledge, and foster civic solidarity through data. Check out the Civic Data Solidarity workshop maps: Silicon Valley Diversity: Companies and Their Investors and Treasure Island Cleanup and Redevelopment, interact with our own Public Knowledge map, and use Graph Commons to begin mapping your own network.

Burak Arikan is an artist with a background in engineering and new media, who positions his practice at the intersection of art, politics, and technology. For most of the last decade, Arikan has built mapping tools to provide people with the visual and conceptual language to comprehend the world in terms of its networks, and the digitization of relationships in the 21st century: “More than ever, we are constructing what a public is.”

Arikan takes social, economic, and political issues and inputs and runs them through custom abstract machinery, generating network maps and algorithmic interfaces. The final form results in performances and create predictions to render inherent power relationships visible and discussable. His recent collaborative, research-based projects have addressed such topics as global internet governance, penal systems, and the effects of neoliberalism on migrant workers. Arikan’s software, prints, installations, and performances have been featured in numerous exhibitions internationally. Currently based between New York and Istanbul, Arikan is the founder of Graph Commons, a collaborative platform for mapping, analyzing, and publishing data-networks.


Data: Measurements, recordings, or observed facts generated about human or nonhuman activities.

Data subject: The ones or things that are being tracked.

Data generator: The ones who are doing the tracking.

Civic data: Data generated about civil society issues where the data subject is not citizens or consumers, but companies, governments, and systems.

Solidarity: A social principle that produces unities of interests, objectives, standards, and sympathies. Solidarity is maintained through the interdependence and interoperation of its constituents.

Communication Protocol: A system of rules that allow networked computers to transmit information among each other. The protocol defines the rules syntax, semantics and synchronization of communication and possible error recovery methods. 2

Protocol for civic data solidarity: A schema for structuring data about civil society issues in order to facilitate data interoperation among civil society projects and tools.


Who is the subject of civic data?
The subjects that are being tracked in civic data are companies, governments, and systems, not citizens or consumers.

Who is the generator of civic data?
Civic data is generated by civil society organizations or individuals who track civil society issues caused by companies, governments, and systems. Civic data is not generated by the governments or the corporations that are tracking data about citizen or consumer activities.

How civic data is generated?
Civic data is generated by making measurements or observations in the field, and combining records about companies, governments, and systems.

Does the political orientation of the data-generating organization matter?
Although multiple organizations work under the sign of “Climate Change”, this does not mean that they share the same political commitments. However, political orientation is not as important as the directionality of data collection, that the subject being tracked should not be citizens or consumers, but companies, governments, systems.