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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Keynote: Big Data, Little Data, or No Data? Why Human Interaction with Data is a Hard Problem (slides)

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Enthusiasm for big data is obscuring the complexity and diversity of data in scholarship and the challenges of human interaction and retrieval. Data practices are local, varying from field to field, individual to individual, and country to country. As the number and variety of research partners expands, so do the difficulties of sharing, reusing, and sustaining access to data. Information retrieval is hindered by the lack of agreement on what are “data.” Complexities of human interaction with data will be illustrated with empirical examples from environmental sciences, sensor networks, astronomy, biomedicine, and other fields. Unless larger questions of knowledge infrastructures and stewardship are addressed by research communities, “no data” often becomes the norm. Implications for policy and practice in the information sciences will be explored, drawing upon the presenter’s book, Big Data, Little Data, No Data: Scholarship in the Networked World (MIT Press, 2015), and subsequent research.

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