Skip to the main content
All Data Are Local
Luncheon Series

All Data Are Local

VIDEO & PODCAST: Thinking Critically in a Data-Driven Society

“In our data-driven society, it is too easy to assume the transparency of data. Instead, we should approach data sets with an awareness that they are created by humans and their dutiful machines, at a time, in a place, with the instruments at hand, for audiences that are conditioned to receive them,” says Yanni Alexander Loukissas, Assistant Professor of Digital Media in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication at Georgia Tech.

All data are local. The term data set implies something discrete, complete, and portable, but it is none of those things. Examining a series of sources important for understanding public data in the United States—Harvard's Arnold Arboretum, the Digital Public Library of America, UCLA's Television News Archive, and the real estate marketplace Zillow—this talk explains how to analyze data settings rather than data sets.

The talk sets out six principles: all data are local; data have complex attachments to place; data are collected from heterogeneous sources; data and algorithms are inextricably entangled; interfaces recontextualize data; and data are indexes to local knowledge. Then, it provides a set of practical guidelines to follow. These findings are based on a combination of qualitative research on data cultures and exploratory data visualizations. Rebutting the myth of “digital universalism,” this work reminds audiences of the meaning-making power of the local.

Download original audio or video from this event

Subscribe to the Berkman Klein events series podcast.

Download the Transcript

Past Event
Tuesday, March 3, 2020
12:00 PM - 1:15 PM ET
Harvard Law School, Wasserstein Hall
Room 2012, Second Floor
Cambridge, MA 02138 US

Events 01

Event Series

Luncheon Series

The Berkman Klein Center Luncheon Series is a weekly forum for conversations about Internet issues and research. It is free and open to the public.