Database Ethnographies Using Social Science Methodologies to Enhance Data Analysis and Interpretation

“Data are the basis for many decisions ranging from assessing credit applications, to determining societal risk of criminals to adjudicating grant applications. Data collection and use constitute social practices, yet once data are placed in tables, their social lineage is forgotten. Database ethnographies are a unique means of using insights from science and technology studies and practices from the social sciences to enhance data analysis. The goal of this methodology is to elicit information from data stewards about the data in multiple-use databases in order to provide an archive that describes the context and meaning of the data at a particular point in time. This article provides a review of a composite literature that contributed to the concept and implementation of database ethnographies. In addition, it illustrates how database ethnographies contribute to more nuanced metadata and act as the basis for informed decision-making involving data from multiple sources”

About Cosimo Accoto

Visiting Scientist at MIT (Boston). Formerly, Partner and VP Innovation at OpenKnowledge http://www.open-knowledge.it/en/ | Books author and coauthor (recently published "Social Mobile Marketing", Egea 2014, 2e) | Digital theorist and international researcher | Analytics industry speaker | @cosimoaccoto | http://www.linkedin.com/in/cosimoaccoto | cosimo.accoto@open-knowledge.it |

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