The thirteen Ps of big data

Big data are often described as being characterised by the ‘3 Vs’: volume, variety, and velocity, sometimes augmented with value, veracity/validity, virality, and viscosity.

These characterisations principally come from the worlds of data science and data analytics. From the perspective of critical data researchers, there are different ways in which big data can be described and conceptualised. Anthropologists Tom Boellstorff and Bill Maurerrefer to the ‘3 Rs’: relation, recognition and rot.

Australian sociologist Deborah Lupton (University of Canberra) has generated her own list: the ‘Thirteen Ps’ of big data: portentous, perverse, personal, productive, partial, practices, predictive, political, provocative, privacy, polyvalent, polymorphous and playful.

For her, it is away to draw attention to the sociocultural dimensions of big data that the ‘Vs’ lists have thus far failed to acknowledge, and to challenge the taken-for-granted attributes of the big data phenomenon.