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The Data Revolution

The Data Revolution
Big Data, Open Data, Data Infrastructures and Their Consequences

August 2014 | 240 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
"Carefully distinguishing between big data and open data, and exploring various data infrastructures, Kitchin vividly illustrates how the data landscape is rapidly changing and calls for a revolution in how we think about data."
- Evelyn Ruppert, Goldsmiths, University of London

"Deconstructs the hype around the ‘data revolution’ to carefully guide us through the histories and the futures of ‘big data.’ The book skilfully engages with debates from across the humanities, social sciences, and sciences in order to produce a critical account of how data are enmeshed into enormous social, economic, and political changes that are taking place."
- Mark Graham, University of Oxford

Traditionally, data has been a scarce commodity which, given its value, has been either jealously guarded or expensively traded.  In recent years, technological developments and political lobbying have turned this position on its head. Data now flow as a deep and wide torrent, are low in cost and supported by robust infrastructures, and are increasingly open and accessible. 

A data revolution is underway, one that is already reshaping how knowledge is produced, business conducted, and governance enacted, as well as raising many questions concerning surveillance, privacy, security, profiling, social sorting, and intellectual property rights. 

In contrast to the hype and hubris of much media and business coverage, The Data Revolution provides a synoptic and critical analysis of the emerging data landscape.  Accessible in style, the book provides:
  • A synoptic overview of big data, open data and data infrastructures
  • An introduction to thinking conceptually about data, data infrastructures, data analytics and data markets
  • Acritical discussion of the technical shortcomings and the social, political and ethical consequences of the data revolution
  • An analysis of the implications of the data revolution to academic, business and government practices
Chapter 1: Conceptualising Data
What are data?  
Kinds of data  
Data, information, knowledge, wisdom  
Framing data  
Thinking critically about databases and data infrastructures  
Data assemblages and the data revolution  
Chapter 2: Small Data, Data Infrastructures and Data Brokers
Data holdings, data archives and data infrastructures  
Rationale for research data infrastructures  
The challenges of building data infrastructures  
The challenges of building data infrastructuresData brokers and markets  
Chapter 3: Open and Linked Data
Open data  
Linked data  
The case for open data  
The economics of open data  
Concerns with respect to opening data  
Chapter 4: Big Data
Resolution and indexicality  
Chapter 5: Enablers and Sources of Big Data
The enablers of big data  
Sources of big data  
Directed Data  
Automated data  
Volunteered data  
Chapter 6: Data Analytics
Machine learning  
Data mining and pattern recognition  
Data visualisation and visual analytics  
Statistical analysis  
Prediction, simulation and optimization  
Chapter 7: The Governmental and Business Rationale for Big Data
Governing people  
Managing organisations  
Leveraging value and producing capital  
Creating better places  
Chapter 8: The Reframing of Science, Social Science and Humanities Research
The fourth paradigm in science?  
The re-emergence of empiricism  
The fallacies of empiricism  
Data-driven science  
Computational social sciences and digital humanities  
Chapter 9: Technical and Organisational Issues
Deserts and deluges  
Data quality, veracity and lineage  
Data integration and interoperability  
Poor analysis and ecological fallacies  
Skills and human resourcing  
Chapter 10: Ethical, Political, Social and Legal Concerns
Data shadows and dataveillance  
Data security  
Profiling, social sorting and redlining  
Secondary uses, control creep and anticipatory governance  
Modes of governance and technological lock-ins  
Chapter 11: Making Sense of the Data Revolution
Understanding data and the data revolution  
Researching data assemblages  
Final thoughts  

Scholars new and old in CSCW will benefit from Kitchin’s in-depth examination of the many facets of long-term and emerging research in data studies. … The Data Revolution as a volume aims to parse the landscape of big data as more than a hubristic and hype-driven rhetorical realm, but rather one that is critically framed and examined. Here Kitchin succeeds and offers an easily readable volume that draws on and complements the work of this journal. Readers immersed in data studies will find many well-known points succinctly presented. For those less familiar with such work this is an excellent introduction

Drew Paine
Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW)

Rob Kitchin’s latest book is an important addition to the emerging field of critical data studies, in that itmanages to both make a clear, convincing and reasonably detailed case for why it is necessary to lookcritically at what data are—and, just as crucially, what they do in the world—and provide stimulatinginsights and suggestions for further research in this area.

Francesca Menichelli, University of Cambridge
Surveillance and Society

This is an exemplary scholarly book: smart, objective, clear, concise, well informed, rich in insights, and thought provoking. Definitely the best ‘general’ overview of big data I have seen so far.

Cristian Suteanu, Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, NS, Canada
Geographical Research

Professor Rob Kitchin’s overview of “the data revolution” is the best monograph we have discovered on open and big data. It defines the issues of open and big data and the potential consequences of the data revolution. In a balanced way, and without the hyperbole of trade press books on big data, Kitchin explains that the data revolution has implications for governance, management of business, and even understanding of science and knowledge. 

Chris Hoofnagle, Berkeley Law, University of California
Essential Texts - The 19th Annual BCLT/BTLJ Symposium: Open Data

The purpose of this excellent book is to prove how these [big] data do not exist independently from the ideas, techniques, technologies, people and contexts that produce, process, manage, analyze and store them. Moreover, the author explores the definition, characteristics and the techniques to manage big data, but he also focuses his attention on the challenges of this way of thinking and on how big data are changing existing epistemology and science.  

Barbara Martini
Regional Studies

Sample Materials & Chapters

The Data Revolution: Preface

The Data Revolution: Conceptualising Data

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ISBN: 9781446287484
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