Data ethnographies: how do people live with data?

Data Ethnographies is a Lab of the Digital Ethnography Research Centre (DERC), at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia.

Data Ethnographies investigates the implications of the increasing ubiquity of data in everyday lives and worlds. We approach data from an ethnographic perspective to:

  • develop insights into what people do with emergent types of everyday data which surround and are produced by our everyday activities;
  • ask how people feel about how their data might be used by others; explore the implications of living in an environment where data is ‘everywhere’;
  • examine how data makes a difference and leads to innovation in social, political and organisational change; and
  • investigate the pressing question of how big data is impacting on and can add value to the worlds we live in.

The Data Ethnographies Lab approaches data in a unique way. Much existing debate is on how Big Data can be meaningfully engaged with, and what we might learn from it through computational data analytics. The Lab bring to this a novel ethnographic perspective, which takes us deep into the real everyday contexts where data is produced and experienced.

The Lab has published five position papers: personal data in an uncertain world, ethics and data futures, humbling data in a playful world, data stories and broken stories. A March 2017 talk by DERC Director Sarah Pink can be viewed here.