Day 1 – Academic Workshop

Making sense of the value of personal data

Day 1 – Academic Workshop

This workshop takes place on August 31st at 11:00-15:30. The call for abstracts was closed on May 31st. Notifications on submitted abstracts were sent on June 15th.

Please note that this is an invite-only workshop. The exact schedule will be confirmed to the workshop participants.




Call for abstracts (submissions closed)


MyData 2016 is an international conference that takes place in Helsinki between August 31st and September 2nd. The purpose of the conference is to find ways to unleash the value of personal data through human-centric data management and technological innovation. The event will bring together up to 1000 participants from businesses, the research community, civil society, government and local communities.


One track in the conference takes the form of an academic workshop on August 31st.




In the workshop we aim to unpack and clarify the “ways to unleash the value of personal data,” both the unleashing and the value, from the point of view of people. What does it mean for personal data to be valuable to people? What is the value of disclosing data, choosing to keep it secret, or the ability to harness it for individual, social or societal purposes? In particular, how to understand and assess this value?


Personal data is clearly valuable to firms, who are able to aggregate data over several individuals and contexts. Personal data does bring valuable benefits to people themselves too. Valuable outcomes to people might include personalized or targeted services, and the possibility to generate and employ personal data for self-reflection (e.g. Sharon & Zandbergen 2016). At the same time, the increasing necessity to submit to ubiquitous data extraction processes brings along subjective privacy harms. Disclosing data can also lead to tangible, but as of yet unforeseeable, negative consequences at some point in the future. The social nature of personal data makes this also a social question: data about me, and the consequences of sharing it or keeping it secret, may concern also others or the society at large.


Online services are often accessible only after agreeing to data collection and use policies, and firms have framed this as a value exchange of personal data to services (e.g. Turow et al. 2015). In cases, the users of services may see themselves as the rightful beneficiary of more of the value generated via their data (e.g. Fisher 2015). The current data collection and use practices expect people to be able to make an informed analysis of the benefits and costs of disclosing their data, a practice that is riddled with conceptual and practical difficulties (e.g. Solove 2013). The consequences of disclosing data are in many cases not transparent or understandable, and the downstream markets of personal data make this even more problematic (e.g Spiekermann et al. 2015). People are not intrinsically capable of valuing abstract things – perhaps something to aid people in valuing personal data would be needed? Discussion of personal data is often framed in abstract terms like privacy – perhaps we are also lacking the terminology and concepts to approach the issue?


Motivating questions


Your contribution in the workshop could concern the following, or related, questions:


  • Is the value of personal data a relevant concept or a useful framework? What new framings or concepts could we employ to better make sense of the uses of personal data?
  • How can the consequences of personal data collection and use to our everyday lives be made transparent or understandable?
  • What tools could help people in assessing the value of data? What socio-technical solutions could be developed and employed?
  • What rights do people have over their personal data? How could the politics of data enhance or endanger individual freedoms?
  • What alternatives to the current notice & choice paradigm can be developed? What are the problems these alternatives aim to solve and how?
  • How to approach the complexities of personal data vs. aggregated data, and personal data vs. social consequences?
  • How to make personal data value exchanges understandable to people who participate in these exchanges?




Practicalities and abstract submission


We think that understanding these issues requires approaches from many disciplines, and this workshop is not committed to a specific academic field or fields. Your approach could be social sciences, HCI, computer science, business studies, legal studies, or something else altogether.


We look forward to receiving your extended abstracts / position papers related to the above theme by Tuesday, May 31st (end of day AoE) via the submission form [submission closed]. Notifications will be sent out by Wednesday, June 15th. The submissions should not exceed 1000 words in length (excluding references). The submitted extended abstracts / position papers should contain the author’s names and affiliations and should be in PDF format. The accepted abstracts / position papers will be delivered to the workshop participants in advance but will not be published online. We are looking at the possibility to produce a special issue based on the workshop later.


The workshop will take place on August 31st in Helsinki, Finland, at the MyData 2016 conference venue. The workshop takes place during the breakout sessions within the conference programme. In the workshop, we aim to facilitate high-quality discussions and meeting of people with aligned interests. To participate in the workshop, you are expected to register to the MyData 2016 conference, and you will be able to benefit from its whole programme as well.
The workshop is organized by the DCC group at Helsinki Institute for Information Technology HIIT, Aalto University. If you have any questions regarding the workshop, contact the organizers at


Workshop programme committee


Dr. Airi Lampinen (Mobile Life Centre)
Dr. Olli Pitkänen (IPR University Center & HIIT)
Dr. Yki Kortesniemi (HIIT, Aalto University)
Tuukka Lehtiniemi (HIIT, Aalto University)
Kai Kuikkaniemi (HIIT, Aalto University)
Antti Poikola (HIIT, Aalto University)
Matti Nelimarkka (HIIT, Aalto University)
Jesse Haapoja (HIIT, Aalto University)




Fisher, E. (2015). Class struggles in the digital frontier: audience labour theory and social media users. Information, Communication & Society, (April), 1–15. doi:10.1080/1369118X.2015.1018300


Sharon, T., and D. Zandbergen. 2016. “From Data Fetishism to Quantifying Selves: Self-Tracking Practices and the Other Values of Data.” New Media & Society.


Solove, Daniel J. 2013. “Privacy Self-Management and the Consent Dilemma.” Harvard Law Review 126(7):1880–1903.


Spiekermann, Sarah, Alessandro Acquisti, Rainer Böhme, and Kai-Lung Hui. 2015. “The Challenges of Personal Data Markets and Privacy.” Electronic Markets 25(2):161–67. Retrieved (


Turow, Joseph, Michael Hennessy, and Nora Draper. 2015. “The Tradeoff Fallacy. How Marketers Are Misrepresenting American Consumers And Opening Them Up to Exploitation.” A Report from the Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania.