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. We bring to this a novel ethnographic perspective, which takes us deep into the real everyday contexts where data is produced and experienced.
Through collaborations with experts in producing, analyzing and managing digital data we bring together ethnographic, organisational and scientific ways of understanding the world to produce new insights.
The Lab is developing a series of regular RMIT workshops and activities throughout 2016. Other events will be developed in collaboration with our research partners in the Mediacions Research Group at the IN3 in Barcelona, Spain and at the Swedish Centre for Applied Cultural Analysis at Halmstad University in Sweden. With our guest speakers from the US, Denmark, Sweden and Australia we will draw on our existing projects focusing on topics including self tracking and personal data, smart cities, autonomous driving cars, selfies, mobile media and digital activism.
Our discussions are focused on four core questions, but contributors are welcome to add others as our work develops:
- What new insights do ethnographic studies generate concerning people’s relationships to the data produced by our everyday activities;
- What are the implications of living in an environment where data is ‘everywhere’, how are such environments experienced?;
- How do people feel about how their data might be used by others? And what do they do to make themselves feel comfortable with the data in their lives;
- How can big data add value to the worlds we live in? And for whom?
For inquiries about the Lab contact Professor Sarah Pink sarah.pink (at) rmit.edu.au