Is Data Culture?

Autonomy and community

Authored by: Helen Kennedy

The Routledge Companion to the Cultural Industries

Print publication date:  June  2015
Online publication date:  May  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415706209
eBook ISBN: 9781315725437
Adobe ISBN: 9781317533986


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Everyone is doing data analytics, it seems. Multinational corporations, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), governments, public sector organizations, community groups, charities and social movements, and media, arts and cultural organizations can all engage in data mining and benefit from the resulting insights, it is claimed. High-profile examples of the increasing ubiquity of such practices circulate online, such as the example of the young woman whose father became aware that she was pregnant when the online department store Target directed advertisements for pregnancy-related products to her based on her online behaviour (Duhigg 2012). Much of the data that is subjected to monitoring, mining and analytics comes from social media, as more and more social activities take place online, social media data is increasingly available and the cost of storing that data is falling. Social media data is sometimes merged with data from different sources and used for more ominous purposes than advertising, as seen in recent high-profile cases such as “PRISM-gate” (Rushe 2013). Consequently, the results of data analytics permeate more and more of our daily lives: personalized online advertisements, journalism that is increasingly dependent on and driven by data, and digital reputations measured by systems that quantify social media activity, such as Klout and PeerIndex, are just some examples.

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