Response to Information, After the flood

Reading about Wikipedia and the longstanding divide between the “inclusionist” and “deletionist” factions of facebook, I began to think about the role of big data not only in documenting the world, but in creating it.

Some background ; the original conflict was between what concepts were important enough to merit their own Wikipedia page, some believed that Wikipedia should be a place to gather best of mankind’s knowledge to make it available to the world. Other’s believed that Wikipedia should make no judgement over its content, and seek to reflect everything that exists. The example given in the book was a south African restaurant that was deemed worthy of having a Wikipedia page over much opposition.

Now, the noteworthiness of one restaurant doesn’t seem like that much of a big deal, but when big data constructs such as Wikipedia and Facebook play such a large part in life, at what point does Big Data stop reflecting life and life start reflecting Big Data? Most of us are on some form of social media, not only that but our events, and relationships are too, people talk about being “Facebook official” organize their social circles online. In a way, it has become so something is only real if it is confirmed online.

This effect is also extending to a certain degree to business as well, with new businesses living and dying by their online presence. Angie’s list and Yelp are the new yellow pages, and if a company does not appear on them, they might as well not exist. Search engines understand this and have begun to charge extra for higher spots on search results. Some business listings engage in more brazen profiteering, charging companies to remove bad reviews from their online pages. In this way, big data has begun to affect reality instead of the other way around. In essence, “So it is written, so it shall be.”

2 thoughts on “Response to Information, After the flood

  1. I do utterly corroborate the claim that big data has immersed itself into daily life to the extent of self-perpetuation. Also, I greatly agree on how your response handles big data as an entity -which it becomes through such great contemporary dissemination.

    There is one point I seek to delve into, the inquiry: “at what point does big data stop reflecting life and start reflecting big data?”.

    I assert that juxtaposition between life and big data is invalid since there is a discrepancy between their generality. To state concisely, life comprises big data.

    The inquiry seeks to investigate the extent to which conceptions formed through exposure to big data overwhelm conceptions formed through authentic means (empirical observation, authentic socialization…). In accord with the invalidity I have denoted, the bases of conceptions cannot be demarked -as belonging to big data or belonging to other means/life. This is because, subconsciously, human mind does not form conceptions based on discrete premises but derives the conceptions from an accumulation of infinitesimal and numerous premises -opting for these that are immediately available (this ties back to my previous analyses on “puerile cognizance”)*. Therein, the premises imposed through big data cannot be segregated from the superset of premises -life- as no conception is formed exclusively by any set of premises besides the aggregate superset.

    * Note to self on consistency: In this statement, conscious thoughts are regarded with subconscious validity per immediate availability in mind. All thoughts, including the conscious ones, are cumulatively formed through the “variegated spectra” (like thesis-antithesis-synthesis –> thesis…).

    1. I agree that in the reading about the concepts of “inclusionist” and “exclustionist” ideology was very interesting. What intrigued me was the differences between what would be deemed worthy of being online and what would not. The idea of the Internet allowing for limitless bounds of information and “new news” everyday brings us back to ideas of Ann Blair. In one of our first readings for this class, Blair looked at the issue of information overload and methods to deal with it. In the piece “After the Flood,” Blair is also quoted as saying “The perception of an overabundance of books fueled the production of many more books.” Though she is speaking about books, Blair’s statement can also be applied to the Internet. For example, allowing anyone to contribute online leads to millions of different posts, videos, blogs, comments, and other bits of information. The result is a ginormous amount of information, much of which may be considered by some to be unnecessary or unworthy of being online. For example, computer researcher Gordon Bell records every moment of his life with a camera worn around his neck. This device uses hundreds of megabytes a week, which may seem like a waste of space and a contributing factor to information overload to many people. Yet for Bell, it is obviously an important part of his life, otherwise he would not do this. This brings up the problem of how we can deem something to be “worthy” on the Internet. It is an issue because determining what is worthy of taking up computer bytes is a subjective matter. What I may deem worthy may be different from what someone across the world does. How can we come to a consensus on what is noteworthy and what is not? And if we can’t come to this consensus, how do we deal with the vast amounts of information on the Internet?

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