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Christine Borgman

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Social media and digital technology now allow researchers to collect vast amounts of a variety data quickly. This so-called "big data," and the practices that surround its collection, is all the rage in both the media and in research circles. What makes data "big," is described by the v's: volume, velocity, variety, and veracity. Volume refers to the massive scale of the data that can be collected, velocity, the speed of streaming analysis. Variety refers to the different forms of data available, while veracity considers the bias and noise in the data. Although many would like to focus on these details, two other v's,validity and volatility, hold significance for big data. Validity considers the level of uncertainty in the data, asking whether it is accurate for the intended use. Volatility refers to how long the data can be stored, and remain valid.

In her new book, Big Data, Little Data, No Data: Scholarship in the Networked World (MIT Press, 2015), Professor Christine L. Borgman, Presidential Chair in Information Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, examines the infatuation with big data and the implications for scholarship. Borgman asserts that although the collection of massive amounts of data is alluring, it is best to have the correct data for the kind of research being conducted. Further, scholars must now consider the economic, technical, and policy issues related to data collection, storage and sharing. In examining these issues, Borgman details data collection, use, storage and sharing practices across disciplines, and analyzes what data means for different scholarly traditions.


Robert W. GehlReverse Engineering Social Media: Software, Culture, and Political Economy in New Media Capitalism

April 13, 2015

Reverse Engineering Social Media: Software, Culture, and Political Economy in New Media Capitalism (Temple University Press, 2014) by Robert Gehl (University of Utah, Department of Communication) explores the architecture and political economy of social media. Gehl analyzes the ideas of social media and software engineers, using these ideas to find contradictions and fissures beneath the surfaces […]

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Casey O’DonnellDeveloper’s Dilemma: The Secret World of Videogame Creators

April 6, 2015

In his new book, Developer’s Dilemma: The Secret World of Videogame Creators (MIT Press, 2014), Casey O’Donnell, an assistant professor in the department of Media and Information in the College of Communication Arts at Michigan State University, takes the reader inside the game development process. An ethnographic study of the people and the process of videogame […]

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Orit HalpernBeautiful Data: A History of Vision and Reason since 1945

March 9, 2015

The second half of the twentieth century saw a radical transformation in approaches to recording and displaying information. Orit Halpern’s new book traces the emergence of the “communicative objectivity” that resulted from this shift and produced new forms of observation, rationality, and economy. Beautiful Data: A History of Vision and Reason since 1945 (Duke University […]

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Yasmine B. Kafai and Quinn BurkeConnected Code: Why Children Need to Learn Programming

March 7, 2015

Although the push to persuade everyone to learn to code is quite the current rage, the coding movement has roots that extend back for more than a few decades. In 1980 Seymour Papert published his book, Mindstorms: Children, Computers, and Powerful Ideas, arguing that learning to code would help children to better understand not only […]

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Alexander R. GallowayLaruelle: Against the Digital

March 5, 2015

“The chief aim of [philosopher François Laruelle’s] life’s work is to consider philosophy without resorting to philosophy in order to do so.” What is non-philosophy, what would it look like to practice it, and what are the implications of doing so? Alexander R. Galloway introduces and explores these questions in a vibrant and thoughtful new […]

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Thomas LeitchWikipedia U: Knowledge, Authority, and Liberal Education in the Digital Age

March 5, 2015

[Cross-posted from New Books in Education] Wikipedia is one of the most popular resources on the web, with its massive collection of articles on an incredible number of topics. Yet, its user written and edited model makes it controversial in many circles. In Wikipedia U: Knowledge, Authority, and Liberal Education in the Digital Age (Johns Hopkins […]

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Frank R. Baumgartner and Bryan D. JonesThe Politics of Information: Problem Definition and the Course of Public Policy in America

January 19, 2015

[Cross-posted from New Books in Political Science] Frank R. Baumgartner and Bryan D. Jones are the authors of The Politics of Information: Problem Definition and the Course of Public Policy in America (University of Chicago Press 2014). Baumgartner is the Richard J. Richardson Distinguished Professor of Political Science at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill and Jones is […]

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Stephen Goldsmith and Susan CrawfordThe Responsive City: Engaging Communities Through Data-Smart Governance

January 1, 2015

[Cross-posted from New Books in Technology] Without a doubt, the paramount duty of a municipality, of any size, is the delivery services to its constituents. These services range from the seasonal–think snow removal, to the daily–ensuring traffic lights work, to the critical–think trash removal. Cities, particularly those in large urban areas, are tasked with finding ways to […]

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Frank PasqualeThe Black Box Society: The Secret Algorithms That Control Money and Information

December 24, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Technology] Hidden algorithms make many of the decisions that affect significant areas of society: the economy, personal and organizational reputation, the promotion of information, etc. These complex formulas, or processes, are thought by many to be unbiased and impartial and, therefore, good for automated decision-making. Yet, recent scandals, as well as […]

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