Is it "Just data"?

Data in the Age of Digital Scholarship

Presented at the University of Minnesota,
Building Digital Capacity in Graduate Education:
Tools, Technologies, Best Practices, and Issues

data is everywhere

  • It can be collected via new methods like smartphone apps, ubiquitous cameras and audio recording, and new wearable technology.
  • It can be LINKED via an array of new technologies to a broad "semantic web", contextualizing it within a range of other data.
  • It can do more than you imagine. Like predict HIV outbreaks and social unrest. No, really.

data is created

  • Like never before, data is being created from the "data exhaust" of millions of technology users around the world. 
  • This data is being analyzed and turned into more data - data about who you are, what you like, where you'll spend money, and guesses about how dangerous you are likely to be to the status quo.
  • Corporations and governments collect significantly more data than academics. Sometimes, we can get access to this treasure trove.

Data is dangerous

  • People are being sued for possessing data, even for linking to some data. Free speech is no longer safe, even for scholars!

  • Data breaches cost companies worldwide billions of dollars last year. Make sure yours is safe or that you don't care who gets their hands on it (i.e. it is open).

  • Given the amount and types of data collected about you; you will never escape your data exhaust. Make sure to manage it now!

with great power...

  • You don't control the digital afterlife of your data. Make sure you frame it as well as possible so you don't end up with misinterpretive, viral disasters.

DATA is open

  • Find access to datasets that are already "open" and online in accessible formats - these are easy to use and you can contribute back to a larger research community.

  • Demand that public data or even private data becomes open and usable by researches around the world!

  • Find ways to open your data when you conduct original research. It helps verify your results and develop more powerful linked datasets.


Notes & Resources


PGP ID 4B96 271EPGP FINGERPRINT 7E36 743A F1BC E71F 66B4  A308 8002 557B 4B96 271E

Is it "Just Data"?

By Alex Fink

Is it "Just Data"?

This session is meant to spark thinking about corresponding shifts in the definitions, uses, and creation of “data” in the digital age, with the goal of lodging the capacities to use data ethically into digital capacity building for graduate education. This presentation will briefly present a framing of these alternative views of data, offer some examples to draw out new tensions, and pose questions to the work of building digital capacity in graduate education where data is concerned.

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