I analyze the layering of cultural, ethical and social values in big data from the point of view of design. Drawing on examples from the social, natural and human sciences, I argue that that large databases with associated tools for data analytics are rich sites for ethical and political analysis and further that there is a need to recognize this at the design stage. The talk builds on recent work I have done on building knowledge infrastructures, and deploys the concept of the ‘policy knot’ (policy, practice and design) developed by Steve Jackson and colleagues
Geoffrey C. Bowker is Professor at the School of Information and Computer Science, University of California at Irvine, where he directs the Evoke Laboratory, which explores new forms of knowledge expression. Recent positions include Professor of and Senior Scholar in Cyberscholarship at the University of Pittsburgh iSchool and Executive Director, Center for Science, Technology and Society, Santa Clara Together with Leigh Star he wrote Sorting Things Out: Classification and its Consequences; his most recent book is Memory Practices in the Sciences.