From Big Data to Thick Data: Theory and Practice

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When NESTA published Counting What Counts in 2013, no one involved in its inception was prepared for the impact it would make (Lilley and Moore, 2013). The authors, Lilley and Moore, had offered the short document as an attempt to encourage debate about the role of big data in the arts. There was also an initial attempt to create a formula through which arts organizations might assess where they were positioned in relation to the application of data systems. For the authors, there was always an awareness, and a hope, that, given the speed of change in the big data space, what Douglas Rushkoff (2013) calls the acceleration of the acceleration, Counting What Counts would rapidly be superseded by more sophisticated interventions in the debate. Surprisingly, Counting What Counts produced two almost diametrically opposed responses. Many arts organizations were outraged by 52the suggestion that an artistic venture of any kind should be subject to data-driven scrutiny—the words “robots” and “dictated to” were often heard in postconference paper discussions—a response that could often only be countered by the suggestion that funders would at some point want this type of scrutiny, particularly in relation to proof of impact and value for money. Conversely, some of the leading policy and decision-making bodies across Europe showed great interest in the debate, one example being the overwhelmingly positive response of European politicians, academics, and administrators when the Counting What Counts thesis was presented at the 2013 European Union Ready for Tomorrow symposium in Vilnius, Lithuania.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBig Data in the Arts and Humanities: Theory and Practice
EditorsGiovanni Schiuma, Daniela Carlucci
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherTaylor & Francis Group
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781351172608
ISBN (Print)9781498765855
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 9 May 2018


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