Citation Bates J, Lin Y & Goodale P (2016) Data journeys: Capturing the socio-material constitution of data objects and flows, Big Data and Society, 3 (2).
Abstract In this paper, we discuss the development and piloting of a new methodology for illuminating the socio-material con- stitution of data objects and flows as data move between different sites of practice. The data journeys approach contributes to the development of critical, qualitative methodologies that can address the geographic and temporal scale of emerging knowledge infrastructures, and capture the ‘life of data’ from their initial generation through to re-use in different contexts. We discuss the theoretical development of the data journeys methodology and the application of the approach on a project examining meteorological data on their journey from initial production through to being re- used in climate science and financial markets. We then discuss three key conceptual findings from this project about: (1) the socio-material constitution of digital data objects, (2) ‘friction’ in the movement of data through space and time and (3) the mutability of digital data as a material property that contributes to driving the movement of data between different sites of practice.
Keywords critical data studies; data journeys; socio-material; data materiality; data cultures; data practices; big data; data flow;