Pop Culture and Digital Media: Creating the New Social Life of Data

What do you think of when you think of the word data or a data archive? I personally think of large government institutions that contain people’s information like social security numbers. This type of data is known as transactional data which is data that is held within large commercial and government databases that is generated as a by-product of routine transactions between citizens, consumers, business and government. In relation to new media examples of transactional databases would be iTunes, Amazon, and Spotify. There is also another important type of data that not many people think about and that is data that is generated in within the cultural sphere. This is data that is produced and consumed with digital media. You may not realize it, but your interactions online are all contributing to this new type of data.

facebook profile

Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook Profile

In Popular Culture, Digital Archives, and the New Social Life of Data David Beer and Roger Burrows discuss the change in digital technologies and how it has influenced how data is used within popular culture. As people have developed more social behavior electronically more and more data is created and that data can be measured more often. “This data generated in the cultural sphere not only as a result of routine transactions with various digital media . . . but also as a result of what some would want to view as an epochal shift towards popular culture forms . . . (48). Popular culture is placed at the center of the change in digital data. Our relationship with popular culture has changed and now we have the opportunity to be connected all the time through sites like Facebook and Twitter. Profiles are a form of data archives. If you have a Facebook or MySpace profile you have created data within a data archive. Online profiles are a form of data archives. By filling out an online profile you have contributed to this new data. These online profiles accumulate information or data about a particular person

Web 2.0 has made it possible for these new types of data to be created and analyzed. “It simply alerts us to the observation that various Web 2.0 applications, or social media as they are now often referred to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Wikipedia, blogs and the rest have facilitated the increasing participation of people in the formation of media content” (49). This development of a participatory culture has developed these new forms of data and data archives and created a new way to analyze the relationship that we have with media and culture.


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