Title: “Raw Data” Is an Oxymoron
Editor: Lisa Gitelman
Paperback: ISBN: 9780262518284, $30; £20.95
Imprint: Cambridge: MIT Press, 2013
“We live in the era of Big Data, with storage and transmission capacity measured not just in terabytes but in petabytes (where peta– denotes a quadrillion, or a thousand trillion). Data collection is constant and even insidious, with every click and every “like” stored somewhere for something. This book reminds us that data is anything but “raw,” that we shouldn’t think of data as a natural resource but as a cultural one that needs to be generated, protected, and interpreted. The book’s essays describe eight episodes in the history of data from the predigital to the digital. Together they address such issues as the ways that different kinds of data and different domains of inquiry are mutually defining; how data are variously “cooked” in the processes of their collection and use; and conflicts over what can—or can’t—be “reduced” to data. Contributors discuss the intellectual history of data as a concept; describe early financial modeling and some unusual sources for astronomical data; discover the prehistory of the database in newspaper clippings and index cards; and consider contemporary “dataveillance” of our online habits as well as the complexity of scientific data curation…”
“We live in a society obsessed with quantitative ‘proof’ from exit polls to employment statistics. The writers in “Raw Data” is an Oxymoron reveal how ‘data’ are not objective reflections of facts but historical and social constructions. Invaluable reading for anyone grappling with information in the digital age.” — Alice E. Marwick, Assistant Professor Communications and Media Studies, Fordham University
Tom is originally from Brooklyn N.Y but has spent his entire professional career in South Carolina, most recently as Head of Reference Services at the College of Charleston. As part of the Against the Grain and Charleston Conference team, he serves as the associate editor of the print ATG as well as the co-editor of the webpage. Tom’s conference duties include coordinating the Penthouse Suite interviews as well as the conference poster sessions.
He received his MLS from the University of Buffalo, SUNY and a second master’s in public administration from the College of Charleston and the Univ. of South Carolina. His wife Carol and he live in downtown Charleston and she is an artist and a tour guide offering historic walking tours of the city.