The Data Ethnographies Lab

Launched in 2016, Data Ethnographies is a Lab of the Digital Ethnography Research Centre (DERC), at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia. In 2016 Data Ethnographies workshops are being held in Australia, Denmark and Sweden, and have involved, to date leading scholars and researchers from Australia, UK, Sweden, Denmark, USA, Japan and Spain. We are launching a series of collective position papers and videos focused on issues relating to data and society  based on our workshops, which are available here

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.

For more information about Data Ethnographies contact Sarah Pink –



The thirteen Ps of big data

This Sociological Life

Big data are often described as being characterised by the ‘3 Vs’: volume (the large scale of the data); variety (the different forms of data sets that can now be gathered by digital devices and software); and velocity (the constant generation of these data). An online search of the ‘Vs’ of big data soon reveals that some commentators have augmented these Vs with the following: value (the opportunities offered by big data to generate insights); veracity/validity (the accuracy/truthfulness of big data); virality (the speed at which big data can circulate online); and viscosity (the resistances and frictions in the flow of big data) (see Uprichard, 2013 for a list of even more ‘Vs’).

These characterisations principally come from the worlds of data science and data analytics. From the perspective of critical data researchers, there are different ways in which big data can be described and conceptualised (see the further reading…

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Living Digital Data research program

This Sociological Life

People’s encounters and entanglements with the personal digital data that they generate is a new and compelling area of research interest in this age of the ascendancy of digital data. Members of the public are now called upon to engage with a variety of forms of information about themselves and to confront the complexities of how these details are used by others. Personal digital data assemblages are configured as human bodies, digital devices, code, data, time and space come together.

Personal digital data assemblages smartart Personal digital data assemblages

Over the past few years I have been researching the social aspects of personal digital data: how people understand and conceptualise these data, how they use their data, what people know about where their personal data go and how their data are used by second and third parties.I have analysed the metaphors that are used to describe digital data, the politics of digital data, the types…

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Why a Digital Data & Society Consortium?

The Digital Data & Society Consortium had its origins in a discussion on Facebook between Deborah Lupton, Sarah Pink and Deb Verhoeven. Deborah had been thinking for a while time about how researchers in Australia working on the sociocultural dimensions of digital data could come together and bounce their ideas off each other. She posted on Facebook about a conversation she had had that day with a member of the Australian Government Productivity Commission, which was about to initiate a public inquiry into data availability and use. Deb and Sarah responded, expressing their interest in starting a consortium on digital data and society as a first step towards developing links and collaborations between like-minded researchers. These initial online discussions were followed up by a meeting between the three of us at RMIT in May 2016 about our first steps.

This website is the result of these discussions. We three have been joined by a range of Australian scholars working on exciting projects related to digital data and society, plus some of our international research collaborators. The website offers information on the Consortium’s members, their projects and publications and events.