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“Metaphors of Data” reading list

April 26, 2016

With generous contributions from the Social Media Collective extended family, I have put together a list that brings together academic and popular writing on metaphors of data, along with pieces that approach questions of data and commercial/political power. The goal in assembling this list was to catalog resources that are helpful in unpacking and critiquing different metaphors, ranging from the hype around big data as the new oil to less common (and perhaps more curious) formulations, such as data as sweat or toxic waste.

 

Metaphors of Data: a Reading List

 

These resources were originally compiled to support a workshop on data and power (organized at the Mobile Life Centre in Stockholm, Sweden). Sara Watson’s insightful DIS piece on the Industrial Metaphors of Big Data and Maciej Cegłowski’s brilliant talk Haunted By Data turned out to be particularly helpful for provoking conversation among scholars and practitioners. The hope is that the list could be useful also for others in having critical conversations about data.

The list is best seen as an unfinished, non-exhaustive document. We welcome comments and, in particular, recommendations of further work to include. Please use the comment space at the bottom of the page to offer suggestions, and we will try to update the list in light of them.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. April 26, 2016 1:09 pm

    Great list! You might consider adding “Big Data Metaphors We Live By” (by Kailash Awati and Simon Buckingham Shum); “Swimming or Drowning in the Data Ocean? Thoughts on the Metaphors of Big Data” (by Deborah Lupton); and “Metaphors of Big Data” (by yours truly in Re/code).

    • Airi Lampinen permalink
      April 28, 2016 2:03 am

      Thanks, Irina! The list now updated.

  2. April 26, 2016 6:29 pm

    I published a blog post in 2013 on the metaphors of big data:

    Swimming or drowning in the data ocean? Thoughts on the metaphors of big data: https://simplysociology.wordpress.com/2013/10/29/swimming-or-drowning-in-the-data-ocean-thoughts-on-the-metaphors-of-big-data/

    • Airi Lampinen permalink
      April 28, 2016 2:04 am

      Thanks, Deborah! The list now updated.

  3. April 27, 2016 4:08 am

    Definitely worth including Lakoff, G., & Johnson, M. (2003). Metaphors We Live By (2nd ed.). University Of Chicago Press for their conceptual metaphors work.

    • Airi Lampinen permalink
      April 28, 2016 2:04 am

      Thanks, Sara! The list now updated.

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