Date(s) - 10/04/2022
4:30 pm - 5:30 pm

Please join us for a UW Data Science Seminar event on Tuesday, October 4th from 4:30 to 5:20 p.m. PDT. The seminar will feature Bo Zhao, Associate Professor of Geography at the University of Washington.

Use this zoom link to join


“Envision a Humanistic Turn in Data Studies: A case study of Spatial Data Science”

Abstract: Geographical Information System (GIS) technology has never been so profoundly engaging with our lived experiences as it is today. Newly emerged GIS technologies, such as Location-based Services, Geospatial Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, Metaverse, and Digital Twin, have accumulated a vast amount of spatial data that deeply transformed state governance, business operation, and our everyday life. To cope with the constant proliferation of spatial data in the Anthropocene, the author underlines the importance of investigating the fast developing and potentially ubiquitous role of GIS in mediating human-environment interactions, much beyond a collection of research toolkits. In this talk, the presenter will introduce a newly proposed research perspective Humanistic GIS (Zhao, 2022) that can better encompass the expanded category of GIS technology as well as the accompanying opportunities and challenges. To better present the main ideas and merits of this new framework, the presenter will demonstrate a few empirical studies in which he has participated during the past three years, such as using a large amount of mobile phone ping dataset to evaluate the influences of Black-owned labelling campaign (Xiao et al, 2022), Crypto Place on Blockchain (Zhao and Huang, 2020), Deepfake Geography (Zhao et. al., 2021), Cyber Protest at #Standing Rock (Zhang et. al., 2021). This presentation will portray a humanistic pathway for the next chapter of spatial data science. Through this presentation, the presenter also invites the audience to envision a potential humanistic turn in data studies.

Biography: Dr. Bo Zhao is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography at the University of Washington (UW) in Seattle, Washington, where he also directs the Humanistic GIS Laboratory (HGIS Lab), and is affiliated with the eScience Institute, the China Studies Program and CSDE. Prior to his position at UW, Bo was an Assistant Professor at Oregon State University after completing a Postdoc at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

Bo’s research lies at the intersection of GIScience and Human Geography. He has developed a uniquely humanistic approach to examining GIScience and technologies, especially for the interests of vulnerable populations, such as refugees displaced by climate change effects or LGBTQ+ communities in repressive national contexts. Bo studies how geospatial data streams from social media are used in high-profile social and political struggles, looking, for instance, at “location-spoofing” by activists—like indigenous groups involved in territorial struggles—or by reactionary groups agitating over “fake news.”

His work on deepfake geography urges GIScientists to develop coping strategies for the ambivalent nature of GeoAI in the age of “post-truth.” Also, another piece of his recent work tried to encourage data scientists to reflect upon a sustainable and long-term effective allyship with the community of people through a longitude analysis of black-owned restaurants. His work has been funded by NSF, NIH, National Geographic, Samsung, and Google.

The UW Data Science Seminar is an annual lecture series at the University of Washington that hosts scholars working across applied areas of data science, such as the sciences, engineering, humanities and arts along with methodological areas in data science, such as computer science, applied math and statistics. Our presenters come from all domain fields and include occasional external speakers from regional partners, governmental agencies and industry.

The 2022-2023 seminars will be virtual, and are free and open to the public.