Did the Data Win After All?
Looking for a More Reflexive Data Science

Data-driven science seems to proffer a return of the view of the primacy of data but with the twist that the data is being used as if it was a-theoretical although it might actually be hyper-theoretical. If science can be done without a-priori theories then there is no way to evaluate the ethical impact of science. We are proposing to study and develop a hermeneutic and anti-positivist new understanding of science. Using Heidegger's The Question Concerning Technology,

we are looking for a new understanding of reality incorporating both the values of the "traditional" science and the current view of data science. This is part of the needed new critical approaches to Big Data in what is being called "Data Ethics". We are trying to create a foundation that let scientists use Big Data in a thoughtful way, creating a more reflexive data-driven science, one which is still effective but also deals with the impact that theories have on human life.

A fellowship with the Rock Ethics Institute at Penn State.

Research Projects

Global Forest Information System

with Gilberto Camara -INPE and Clodoveu Davis - UFMG

A Global Forest Information System is a project that can increase the capacity of rainforest nations to estimate and monitor deforestation by making essential data and models easily available. The key objective is to enable cooperation and participation from the various actors involved, notably scientists, policy makers, and common citizens. Content as distinct as satellite images, spatial data infrastructures, geobrowsers, research data, laws and policies, and citizen-provided information can be indexed, searched, discovered and used by all interested parties.

Bruno R. Monteiro, Clodoveu A. Davis Jr., Fred Fonseca (2016). A survey on the geographic scope of textual documents. Computer & Geosciences, Volume 96, November 2016, Pages 23–34. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cageo.2016.07.017
Tiago H. Moura, Clodoveu A. Davis Jr., Fred Fonseca (2016). Reference data enhancement for geographic information retrieval using linked data. Transactions in Gis, Early view. 10.1111/tgis.12238
Fonseca, Davis, and Camara (2014), The Semantic Pixel. GeoInfo 2014 - XV Brazilian Symposium on Geoinformatics

Understanding the Big-Data Student

A COIL project with Michael Marcinkowski and Robert Grace

The project Understanding Big-Data for Online Education studies the impact of big data in course design and students' learning experiences. The project will inform instructional designers on how to collect and adapt feedback from multiple users in redesigning courses. It will also enable the design of individualized learning experiences for students.

Marcinkowski and Fonseca (2016). The conditions of peak empiricism in big data and interaction design. JASIST, 67: 1279–1288. doi:10.1002/asi.23497
Grace, R. & Fonseca, F. (2016). Networked pedagogy: exploring asymmetries in the structuring of distributed learning networks. Paper presented at iConference 2016. Philadelphia, PA.
Grace, R. & Fonseca, F. (2015). When the audience talks back: MOOCs and "super" discourse. Paper presented at iConference 2015. Newport Beach, CA.
Marcinkowski, M. & Fonseca, F. (2015). Understanding Concepts and Values for the Future of Online Education through the Practice of Design. Paper presented at iConference 2015. Newport Beach, CA.
Fonseca and Marcinkowski (2014). Who is the big data student? In J. Lane (Ed.), Building a Smarter University: Big Data, Innovation, and Ingenuity. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.
Marcinkowski and Fonseca (2014). Judging technology, judging intent: The doubling of need in design. iConference 2014 Proceedings (pp. 270-280). doi:10.9776/14082
Grace, W.R. & Fonseca, F. (2014, March).Adopting a sociomaterial perspective for the analysis of digital public spheres. Paper presented at iConference 2014. Berlin, Germany.
Marcinkowski, M, (2013). Educational dialogue and technological utterances: A phenomenological approach to developing a theory of evocative design practice. iConference 2013 Proceedings (pp. 531-535). doi:10.9776/13270


Dr. Fred Fonseca is an Associate professor with College of Information Sciences and Technology at Penn State. Currently he is also a fellow with the Rock Institute of ethics at penn State. From 2010-2012 he was the Associate Dean for Education of the College of Information Sciences and Technology. During this time he led the online education operations of the College. His research is focused on the flow of information from its conceptualization in human minds to its implementation is computer applications. Currently he is studying the process surrounding the conceptualization, design, and instantiation of online courses.

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