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University of Tampere School of Information Sciences ITIS52 Interactive Media Use and Users II period - Autumn 2012

CRITICAL QUESTIONS FOR BIG DATA Provocations for a cultural, technological, and scholarly Phenomenon

Authors: Danah Boyd & Kate Crawford

Introduction: This paper is a critical review of the article: CRITICAL QUESTIONS FOR BIG DATA Provocations for a cultural, technological, and scholarly phenomenon. The authors raised several significant questions about the increase of massive quantity of information produced by and about people, things and also the relation among these information and their interaction with people. Among the various issues raised by the authors are: Will large-scale search data help us create better tools, services, and public goods? Will it usher in a new wave of privacy incursions and invasive marketing? The authors make six procations to spark conversations about issues of BIG DATA. They believe that these provocations will open interrogations are important not just in social media but in several other fields too.

Summary: This article points out about the increase of the access to the massive quantities of information produced by and about people, things, and their interactions. To the authors several significant questions emerged from the arguments proposed by diverse groups, they discussed about potential benefits a costs of analyzing genetic sequences, social media interactions, government records, and several kind of other digital traces left by people. They raised some questions based on important topics,

such as, whether the data surveyed would help create better tools, public goods and services or just bring new invasions of privacy and intrusive marketing; if be done to help understand online communities and movements politicians or would be used only to control the protesters and suppress its expression; this large amount of data transform the way we study human communication and culture or would narrow the search options and alter what it means for us today "research"? They try to find a better definition about Big Data, defining this term as a cultural, technological and scholarly phenomenon that rests on the interplay of three other specific terms (technology, analysis and mythology) that together bring a complete meaning. For them, the Big Data has less data than real capacity to search, aggregate and make crosses about reference data sets. The authors also talk about the socio-technical phenomena triggered by the Big Data, exemplifying (utopian and dystopian) with good and bad social consequences. The big data are seen in different points of view, it can be viewed as a powerful tool for resolving various social problems, offering new discoveries in various fields of research, on the other hand, can also be seen as a fairly worrying, it can also enabling invasions of privacy, decreased civil freedoms, and Increased state and corporate control. They used Lessig (1999) argues about social systems and that it is regulated by four forces: market, law, social norms, and architecture and, in the case of technology, code. When it comes to Big Data, these four forces are frequently at odds. And each of these systems tries to protect their points of views strongly. The authors proposed what they call six provocations to spark conversations about the issues of Big Data. For them these questions are hard and without easy answers. The authors interests and experiences are in social media and their focus is mainly on Big Data in social media context, but they believe that these questions are important to several different fields. The six provocations are: 1. Big Data changes the definition of knowledge 2. Claims to objectivity and accuracy are misleading 3. Bigger data are not always better data

4. Taken out of context, Big Data loses its meaning 5. Just because it is accessible does not make it ethical 6. Limited access to Big Data creates new digital divides

1 - Using the example of "Fordism" which automated and standardized production at its assembly line creating the first production series, becoming the orthodoxy of manufacturing, Fordism was the mark of the industrial revolution, radically changing the relationship between labor and society. The authors used a good argument raised by Burkholder (1992) pointing that Big Data not only refers to very large data sets and the tools and procedures used to manipulate and analyze them, but also to a computational turn in thought and research, and about Latour (2009) reminds us (p. 9) Change the instruments, and you will change the entire social theory that goes with them. For them Big Data has emerged a system of knowledge that is already changing the objects of knowledge. For the authors Big Data creates a radical shift in how we think about research. I agree with the point of view of the authors in this first provocation, because I believe that over time acquired knowledge will be enhanced and evolved influenced by several factors.

2 The authors indicate some debates about the scientific method and the legitimacy of social science and humanistic research. The notion of objectivity has been a central issue for the philosophy of science and subjectivity is viewed with suspicion. The scientific method is objective, based on analytical processes designed by the perception of the researcher. Big Data can also provide inaccurate or inconsistent data. We need to know where the data is coming from and if they are really reliable. I agree with them when the authors state that the interpretation is the central data analysis. Regardless of the size of a data set, which is subject to limitations and bias. Without these, prejudices and limitations being understood and explained, misinterpreting the result. Data analysis is most effective when researchers take into account the complex processes that underlie methodological data analysis.

3 - Social scientists have long argued that what makes their work rigorous is rooted in their systematic approach to data collection and analysis (McCloskey 1985). The data generated has many sources, origins and interpretations in specific fields, and each experts in their respective fields attempt to experiment, interpret and validate these data in a methodological way. They used Twitter as an example in the context of a statistical analysis. I think that they are correct to affirm that Twitter does not represent all people, and it is an error to assume people and Twitter users are synonymous: they are a very particular sub-set. Neither is the population using Twitter representative of the global population. Some users have multiple accounts, while some accounts are used by multiple people. Some people (like me) never establish an account or make use of the Twitter. Furthermore, the notion of an active account is problematic. While some users post content frequently through Twitter, others participate as listeners (Crawford 2009, p. 532). Twitter is a great mass of data arranged in the system that can be used for quantitative analysis of system usage but not as actual information accessed.

4 - All data needs to be grouped, sorted in one context and reduced to fit a mathematical model to make sense. If you are out of the contest lose meaning and value. For the authors Big Data introduces two new popular types of social networks derived from data traces: articulated networks and behavioral networks. The first, uses technical mechanisms to specifying their contacts. The other, are derived from communication patterns, cell coordinates, and social media interactions. Both of them have great value to researchers, but they are not equivalent to personal networks.

5 Within all of the issues raised, I believe that in a certain way, the internet speeds up and facilitate the illegal act because the offender is hidden in the system and it is very difficult to know when abuse is occurring. I believe that all data on the network can be arranged, somehow accessed by other users, compromising the security and privacy of the system. There are no ways

to ensure efficacy and safety data provided in network. The separation between what is public and private is like a very tenuous line, this will depend on the quality of security system. 6 - This digital divide appointed by the authors is nothing less than the division between those who have and those who do not have ready access to data in the system. The division occurred in the two spheres, the Big Data rich and the Big Data poor, as summarizing, referring to what may or may not pay for access to data.

This BIG DATA works like double-edged sword (what makes you well can also bring you some kind of injury).

References Burkholder, L. (ed.) (1992) Philosophy and the Computer, Westview Press, Boulder, San Francisco, and Oxford. Crawford, K. (2009) Following you: disciplines of listening in social media, Continuum:Journal of Media & Cultural Studies, vol. 23, no. 4, pp. 532533. Latour, B. (2009) Tardes idea of quantification, in The Social after Gabriel Tarde: Debates and Assessments, ed. M. Candea, Routledge, London, pp. 145162, Lessig, L. (1999) Code: and Other Laws of Cyberspace, Basic Books, New York, NY.

Sueli Leandro de Sousa ID: 413081