5. Experience

In the data tales, the significance of experience came to the fore. The tales demonstrated how experiences shape the relevance of data and give shape to what data comes to mean for particular people in particular places and times. It’s clear too that in examining experiences with real care and attention, tensions surface from the different ways data are understood and put to use. These tensions raise problems for how we manage a multiplicity of understandings, but also provide starting points for different ways of thinking about data and how it might be materialised in real-world experiences.



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Phenomenology of Data

Monika Büscher’s ‘data tale’, about the availability of medical information to first responders evokes concerns about as she phrases it ‘the phenomenology of data’. What does it mean for emergency response personnel to act on the basis of injured people’s data in a very fleeting, ephemeral and pressurized moment, as opposed to drawing on a set of practices and principles? Ewa Luger and Cecily Morrison both highlighted the ways in which we are increasingly expecting people to experience and curate their own data – from personal data about our bodies to aspects of our domestic and social life. But what options do we have to manage our data in situations like Monika’s and to what extent is there a role for personalisation?


How are the lived experiences we are having with data shaping experiences of selfhood and sociality? What options are open to us for (re-)negotiating such things about ourselves when data is materialised in our phenomenal experiences?

Data Tales

Data tales featured speeding tickets, bird song, personalised adverts, job offer letters and home insurance policies. The stories were demonstrations of how we bring together a range of very diverse traces, substances and processes under the rubric of ‘data’. It is an achievement that this term is used in relatively coherent ways. However, it is also powerful in shaping and motivating the debate.


How can we recognize the multiplicity of ‘data’ and ensure that the differences in and between forms of data are kept alive and are put to work as generative tensions in future discussions?