Lives of Data
Edited by Sandeep Mertia
Lives of Data maps the historical and emergent dynamics of big data, computing, and society in India. Data infrastructures are now more global than ever before. In much of the world, new sociotechnical possibilities of big data and artificial intelligence are unfolding under the long shadows cast by infra/structural inequalities, colonialism, modernization, and national sovereignty. This book offers critical vantage points for looking at big data and its shadows, as they play out in uneven encounters of machinic and cultural relationalities of data in India’s socio-politically disparate and diverse contexts.
Lives of Data emerged from research projects and workshops at the Sarai Programme, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies. It brings together fifteen interdisciplinary scholars and practitioners to set up a collaborative research agenda on computational cultures. The essays offer wide-ranging analyses of media and techno-scientific trajectories of data analytics, disruptive formations of the digital economy, and the grounded practices of data-driven governance in India. Encompassing history, anthropology, science and technology studies (STS), media studies, civic technology, data science, digital humanities, and journalism, the essays open up possibilities for a truly situated global and sociotechnically specific understanding of the many lives of data.
‘This remarkable collection is the first major portrait and assessment of the social and technical relationalities that constitute the ecology of big data in India today. Equally remarkably, the authors represent the first generation of scholars of digital media who speak through an Indian lens while being totally conversant with the cutting edge of global scholarship on big data.’ — Arjun Appadurai, Goddard Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication, New York University
‘Wide-ranging and incisive, Lives of Data is essential reading for those who wish to understand the seductions and contingencies of being or becoming data-driven.’ — Lisa Gitelman, author, Paper Knowledge and editor, ‘Raw Data’ Is an Oxymoron