Part I: Questions Research is hard to do. Much of it is left to the specialists who carry on in school 4-10 more years after completing a first degree to acquire the proper training. It’s not only ...
Leading into a data science conference my department (DataEdge) is hosting this week, I want to list some questions that I (and maybe other ‘small data’ people) have about the big data / data analytics trend. These questions arise from my ethnographic orientation and an interest and history in applied research. For me, they are the following:What do researchers consider the most compelling examples, the ‘showcase’ applications of big data that involve study of the social world and social behavior?To what end is such a research approach being put? What actions are being taken on the basis of findings from ‘big data’ analysis?The data analytics discussion appears to be US-centric debate … how well are researchers grappling with the analysis of ‘big data’ when dealing with data collected from across heterogeneous, international populations?How do ‘big data’ analysts connect data on behavior to the meaning/intent underlying that behavior? How do they avoid (or how do they think they can avoid) getting this wrong?How might the analysis of ‘big data’ complement projects that are primarily ethnographic?
For good measure, a couple of interesting, probing takes on big data:Genevieve Bell on ‘big data as a person‘danah boyd and Kate Crawford – Six Provocations for Big Data
Following the DataEdge conference, I will try to address some of these questions and offer some answers through a conference recap.