“Carefully distinguishing between big data and open data, and exploring various data infrastructures, Kitchin vividly illustrates how the data landscape is rapidly changing and calls for a revolution in how we think about data.”
- Evelyn Ruppert, Goldsmiths, University of London
“Deconstructs the hype around the ‘data revolution’ to carefully guide us through the histories and the futures of ‘big data.’ The book skilfully engages with debates from across the humanities, social sciences, and sciences in order to produce a critical account of how data are enmeshed into enormous social, economic, and political changes that are taking place.”
- Mark Graham, University of Oxford
Traditionally, data has been a scarce commodity which, given its value, has been either jealously guarded or expensively traded. In recent years, technological developments and political lobbying have turned this position on its head. Data now flow as a deep and wide torrent, are low in cost and supported by robust infrastructures, and are increasingly open and accessible.
A data revolution is underway, one that is already reshaping how knowledge is produced, business conducted, and governance enacted, as well as raising many questions concerning surveillance, privacy, security, profiling, social sorting, and intellectual property rights.
In contrast to the hype and hubris of much media and business coverage, The Data Revolution provides a synoptic and critical analysis of the emerging data landscape. Accessible in style, the book provides: A synoptic overview of big data, open data and data infrastructures; An introduction to thinking conceptually about data, data infrastructures, data analytics and data markets; Acritical discussion of the technical shortcomings and the social, political and ethical consequences of the data revolution; An analysis of the implications of the data revolution to academic, business and government practices
Chapter 1: Conceptualising Data
Data are commonly understood to be the raw material produced by abstracting the world into categories, measures and other representational forms – numbers, characters, symbols, images, sounds, electromagnetic waves, bits – that constitute the building blocks from which information and knowledge are created. Data are usually representative in nature (e.g., measurements of a phenomena, such as a person's age, height, weight, colour, blood pressure, opinion, habits, location, etc.), but can also be implied (e.g., through an absence rather than presence) or derived (e.g., data that are produced from other data, such as percentage change over time calculated by comparing data from two time periods), and can be either recorded and stored in analogue form or encoded in digital form as bits (binary digits). ...