Big Data and Media Theory


Speaker: Prof. Ralph Schroeder, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford

Date: 17th Nov 2015 (Tuesday)

Time: 2:30pm – 4:00pm

Venue: Room 313, Humanities Building, New Asia College, the Chinese University of Hong Kong




Publications about big data currently fall into two camps: those which announce new discoveries about online social behaviour based on regularities in large-scale digital data; and those which criticize the social implications big data applications and also the epistemological validity of big data research. This talk will address a related but hitherto unexplored question: how do big data findings fit into and advance media theory? To answer this question requires defining data and big data, and identifying the workings and social implications of the 'objects', mostly social media, to which these data belong. Once the roles of social media have been located among the overall uses of information and communication technology, it also becomes possible to put big data findings in their place. It is also necessary to put them into the larger context of how social media are changing the role of media in society. The importance of 'context' in big data research is therefore not about the contextual nature of data, but rather to about how social media uses fit into larger patterns of political and cultural change resulting from the use of new digital technologies.