People are your data

New York based writer Carrie Neill interviews tech ethnographer Tricia Wang on why the digital age means everyone (even non-researchers) should understand “thick data”.

Any modern person who calls themselves an ethnographer or a qualitative researcher needs to be both a people nerd and a data nerd. Those things are interchangeable because data is people, people are data. Data and people are inextricably linked; to decouple them is a massive mistake. Researchers don’t have the equivalent of a Hippocratic Oath, but if we did have one, I would add that our job is to empower people to understand how their data is being used and that our internal work inside organizations is to be the advocate for people’s data, which ultimately means being an advocate for people’s personhood.