Resources for in-class discussion of big data (Sept. 10)

Questions for discussion

1. Why does Croll claim big data is a civil rights issue?  How has the technology shifted to make it a civil rights issue?  How is Croll’s claim relevant to historians using big data in their research?

2. In “Big Data On Campus Is Like A Keg Stand For Your Brain,” Sinclair writes that he wants to develop digital tools that guides the reader in asking questions about the data.  What are the advantages and liabilities to such a tool in the humanities?

3. Reading between the lines of the articles we’ve read so far for this course (but looks especially at the one by Gibbs and Owen), what are the methods, forms, and values of the traditional humanities?  What are the challenges in merging the methods, forms, and values of digital practice with the traditional humanities?

4. What do Gibbs and Owen mean when they write that “rigorous mathematics is not necessarily essential for using data efficiently and effectively.  In particular, work with data can be exploratory and deliberately without the mathematical rigor that social scientists must use to support their epistemological claims”?  How might humanists’ engagement with big data differ from social scientists’?


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