"They've got everything already, anyway": Engaging the Myth of Inevitability in Big Data

Authors: Julie Saperstein*, University of Kentucky-- Lexington
Topics: Social Theory, Cultural Geography, Political Geography
Keywords: Big Data, End User License Agreements, data, discourse, FCC, privacy, affect, anxiety,
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 2:40 PM / 4:20 PM
Room: Iberville, Marriott, River Tower Elevators, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


"They've got everything already, anyway," in its many permutations is a familiar refrain when users access a website or download an app. Why care who has your data when 'they' already have it?

Leszczynski and Crampton (2016) engage the idea of "anxieties of control," in which individuals may want to control their data, but also consider the attempt doomed. In order to engage this idea of anxieties of control, we need to unpack the idea of Big Data's Inevitability--to take down the Leviathan dubbed 'they' and segment it into moments of mediation between the various actors involved in Big Data generation, collection and usage. Key in this debate are the concepts of privacy and trust, affective responses that color the discursive landscape through variegated means. This paper seeks engage these ideas by (1) Identifying discourses that shape the myth of Big Data Inevitability; and (2) identifying moments of mediation and negotiation in the generation, collection and usage of Big Data. These moments and discourses are identified through the analysis of a case study on FCC public comments on Privacy supplemented by government reports, NGO documents and academic/industry conferences.

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