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Hello from a Researcher in DATALAB

Get to know one of the members of DATALAB. Here, PhD scholar Amanda Karlsson tells about her research project on personal data tracking.

Amanda Karlsson
Amanda Karlsson


Hello, I am Amanda Karlsson!

40yrs, mom and bonus-mom, PhD Scholar at the Institute of Communication & Culture, Aarhus University and member of DATALAB – Center for Digital Social Research. Currently visiting research Scholar at DDH – Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London.

My research contributes to…

I am conducting an empirically grounded research study on Danish women’s everyday use of period-trackers (i.e. apps for tracking menstruation). The case that my studie centres around is Clue. I am interested in the interplay between digital technology and gender, between personal data and issues of ownership and privacy; who produces the data, profits from the data, and owns the data? I am particularly interested in the feedback loop between the self-tracker and the app, and if the period apps potentially ‘nudge’ certain physical emotions by pushing notifications about PMS, cramps and bleeding days.

I hope that my research will contribute to a greater understanding of the needs that these apps fulfill in everyday lives of women and the kind of relationship and knowledge that emerges between user and app. Also, I hope that my research – and research by other scholars within my field – eventually can (and will) influence the design process of tracking apps as well as the handling and protection of the data produced by using these apps.

Currently, I am absorbed in…

Preparing a seminar at DDH, which is an excellent opportunity for getting qualified feedback on my project. At least, that is what I keep telling myself while slowly dying of anxiety…

What’s taken me by surprise the most in research

The bias between time spent preparing a visit “abroad” (e.g. the process of applying for funding, fighting bureaucracy, applying for approval to actually spend the funding, fighting more bureaucracy) and the actual time spent abroad.

I would like to concern myself more with

Everything regarding the female body – the datafication as well as the perception of it. It constantly amazes me (in a not so pleasant way) how the female body has been looked at throughout history, and how traces of these ancient ideas and believes have survived and seeped into today’s society and culture.

This is where I convey my knowledge

Various “light science” sites such as Videnskab.dk, in blogposts like this one, but also at Twitter and on conferences, seminars and so forth, e.g. DDH, Kings College on May 16.

I find new knowledge and inspiration here

  • This Sociological Life – a blog by Scholar and sociologist Deborah Lupton who is of great inspiration to me.
  • I recently finished the book Staying with the trouble, by Donna Haraway which really is fruit for thought – regardless of research area or philosophy of life!
  • The HBO series The Handmaids Tale – and the book behind the series, by Margaret Atwood. And be aware that none of the events described in the book – nor in the first season of the series – are fictional but in fact inspired by real life events. Scary business, and important business.
  • I listen to various podcasts and audio books. The list is long…