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Overview

Episodes in the history of data, from early modern math problems to today's inescapable “dataveillance,” that demonstrate the dependence of data on culture.

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.

Essay Authors
Geoffrey C. Bowker, Kevin R. Brine, Ellen Gruber Garvey, Lisa Gitelman, Steven J. Jackson, Virginia Jackson, Markus Krajewski, Mary Poovey, Rita Raley, David Ribes, Daniel Rosenberg, Matthew Stanley, Travis D. Williams

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780262518284
Publisher: MIT Press
Publication date: 01/25/2013
Series: Infrastructures
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 192
Product dimensions: 7.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Lisa Gitelman is Professor of English and Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University. She is the coeditor of New Media, 1710–1915 (2003) and author of Always Already New: Media, History, and the Data of Culture (2006), both published by the MIT Press.

Markus Krajewski is Associate Professor of Media History at the Bauhaus University, Weimar. He is a developer of the bibliographic software Synapsen: A Hypertextual Card Index (www. verzetteln. de/synapsen)Geoffrey C. Bowker is Professor and Director of the Evoke Lab at the University of California, Irvine. He is the coauthor (with Susan Leigh Star) of Sorting Things Out: Classification and Its Consequences and the author of Memory Practices in the Sciences , both published by the MIT Press.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Introduction Lisa Gitelman Virginia Jackson 1

Color Plates Daniel Rosenberg Thomas Augst Ann Fabian Jimena Canales Lisa Lynch Lisa Gitelman Paul E. Ceruzzi Lev Manovich Jeremy Douglass William Huber Vikas Mouli

1 Data before the Fact Daniel Rosenberg 15

2 Procrustean Marxism and Subjective Rigor: Early Modern Arithmetic and Its Readers Travis D. Williams 41

3 From Measuring Desire to Quantifying Expectations: A Late Nineteenth-Century Effort to Marry Economic Theory and Data Kevin R. Brine Mary Poovey 61

4 Where Is That Moon, Anyway? The Problem of Interpreting Historical Solar Eclipse Observations Matthew Stanley 77

5 "facts and FACTS": Abolitionists' Database Innovations Ellen Gruber Garvey 89

6 Paper as Passion: Niklas Luhmann and His Card Index Markus Krajewski 103

7 Dataveillance and Countervailance Rita Raley 121

8 Data Bite Man: The Work of Sustaining a Long-Term Study David Ribes Steven J. Jackson 147

Data Flakes: An Afterword to "Raw Data" Is an Oxymoron Geoffrey C. Bowker 167

List of Contributors 173

Index 179

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