databases have recapitulated social and organizational developments #bigdata

Schermata 05-2456432 alle 16.53.58

“Database development has followed this vein. The early databases were hierarchical – you needed to go down a detailed line of authority each time you wanted to retrieve a datum. Then we had relational databases, where there was still central control but much more flexible access (the database system, like society at the time, was seen as a fixed structure). Today we have moved into a world of object-oriented and object-relational databases, in which each data object lives in a Tardean paradise — any structure can be evanescent providing we know the inputs or outputs of any object within it. So databases have recapitulated social and organizational developments. And many organizations changed in the 1990s and 2000s in an effort to become more “ object-oriented ” ; forgetting that the first object-oriented language (Simula, a precursor to Smalltalk) attempted to model work practice. Along the way, we have conceived ourselves and the natural entities in terms of data and information. We have flattened both the social and the natural into a single world so that there are no human actors and natural entities but only agents (speaking computationally) or actants (speaking semiotically) that share precisely the same features. It makes no sense in the dataverse to speak of the raw and the natural or the cooked and the social: to get into it you already need to be defined as a particular kind of monad” (“Data Flakes”, Geoffrey C. Bowker, in “Raw Data is an Oxymoron”, 2013, The MIT Press, p. 169)

Published by

Cosimo Accoto

Research Affiliate 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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