Volume 5, Issue 1: public data

Guest editors Kathleen Brandt and Brian Lonsway are now accepting one-page proposals at

Full submissions will be accepted between September 1 and December 30, 2017 via the Open Journal Systems (OJS) submissions portal.

To submit, register and login to the OJS portal.
Contact for username, password, or general assistance with OJS.

For this call for submissions for PUBLIC we seek to host a critical and creative conversation around the many ways that engaged scholarship and practice in the arts, humanities, and design embrace the challenges and opportunities of public data: data collected on, by, with, and/or for our public interests.  We seek submissions from a rich variety of perspectives centrally concerned with the social, cultural, and political implications of public data around topics such as:

  • Public or private ownership of and/or access to data
  • The uses and abuses of quantitative information
  • Historical context for collecting data
  • Community datasets for social change
  • Participatory data collection
  • Data, bureaucracies, and power
  • Civic information infrastructures
  • Open data
  • Data and the construction of ‘publics’ and public identities
  • Data literacy
  • Data visualizations / auralizations
  • Alternative representations of data meant to empower
  • Origins, conceptualizations, and alternative understandings of data
  • Data activism

In 1968, Stewart Brand unveiled the Whole Earth Catalog, a transformative collection of information: what amounted to a paper database of tools and ideas for a new generation.  It was heavily inspired by the countercultural movements that saw radical social, political, and cultural potentials in the new computing and information technologies of the 1960’s.  This public database (database itself a newly coined word at the time) was seen to have a liberative potential — it could provide democratic access to a new world of knowledge and self- and community-empowerment.

We know that the collection, storage, processing, and analysis of data has exploded since the 1960’s  – casual conversations around “big data,” “data mining,” and “data privacy” are not uncommon. Much has been written about our new public and private identities that are formed in and by our ‘data footprints.’

Public data can also empower our publics in significant ways.  Within the past decades, an increasing number of individuals and organizations are creating opportunities to make private data publicly accessible, empower the public to create participatory datasets, and provide once exclusive tools to support the public’s ability to share and benefit from complex datasets.

These efforts have in fact inspired much of the core ideas and technologies behind PUBLIC in the context of Imagining America’s mission to foster and advance publicly engaged work. PUBLIC itself is a public database of work peer-assessed by the public.  We strive to provide alternative forms of access to the creative work of our communities, and as we continue to grow, provide new ways for the public to engage the results of these efforts.

As an online journal, we are especially interested in submissions that explore the creative potentials of the journal’s interactive, multimedia platform.  We encourage the submission of projects that might present and represent data in new ways.

Any inquiries, please contact the issue Guest Editors, Kathleen Brandt and Brian Lonsway at


Submissions can take diverse forms as long as they are linked to the theme of the issue. For example, discussions of principles and practices might be critical pieces in multiple media, single or collaboratively authored, narrative or interview format. Reflective case studies might link to online projects that ask what “engagement” means practically and philosophically in existing projects. Feel free to propose experimental or collaborative formats that capture your work most vividly. We can accept a wide variety of formats for consideration; if you have any questions, please contact the guest and design editors.

Submission Process

We are currently accepting one-page description of the topic and format you are considering. Please email proposals to Full submissions are due November 30, 2017 for peer review through our online submission portal at The guest editors and design editors will work with authors of accepted submissions through a process of revision and digital design in preparation for publication.

Journal Information:

Mission Statement

Editorial Policies

Submissions Guidelines

Peer Review Process