The explosion of social networks means that the whole richness of human interaction – fights, breakups, love, loss, work, politics, art – are played out across network space by large numbers of the human population. Simultaneous with this is the rise of “Big Data” – huge data sets drawn from these networks that allow researchers (states, the public and private sector) to learn much about the populations under study. Virally and memetics, allegedly spontaneous phenomena can be analysed with the statistical gaze. And everything else.
Alex Andrews is joined by Jay Owens and Ed Manley to ask what does all this mean? What does it mean to be intensively connected like this – selves porous and attached at every waking moment, blurring the boundaries of self-performance work and leisure? How do the micro-banalities of every day life – from the daily commute to the walk in the park – play out on a vast aggregate macro level of Big Data? What is it to have a self on a social network, a data self?
Jay Owens is a social media researcher at FACE, the creative research agency. She uses everything from big social data to semiotics to explain to brands what people are doing on the internet. Her last project was a comparative study of how the Gangnam Style and The Harlem Shake videos went viral.
Ed Manley is a researcher at UCL. His work uses big datasets to explore how variations in the behaviours of individuals in the city contribute to its form and function. He has carried out numerous spatial analyses of large collections of Twitter data, exploring what these patterns tell us about how people engage with social media, and whether these traces tell us anything about the rhythm of the city more generally.
Alex Andrews is a writer, digital activist, working programmer and academic. He is co-founder of the Creative Commons record label Records on Ribs, a project that seeks to explore notions of intellectual property, creativity and the commons in an Internet age. He has collaborated with Lucky PDF, teaching at their School of Global Art. He is webmaster and internet consultant for Auto Italia and the Immaterial Labour Isn’t Working project. He lives and works in London.