Nietzsche’s ‘active forgetfulness’ in the face of the avalanche of digital data

This Is Not a Sociology Blog

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“Big Data” has quickly become one of the most widely used, perhaps overused, phrases in the last couple of years and is in danger of becoming meaningless through its application to so many different things. Nevertheless it is clear that there is a lot of data around. Ian Hacking described the exponential increase in publication of statistical data between 1820 and 1840 as ‘the avalanche of printed numbers’. The avalanche of digital data dwarfs this billions of times over. An IBM scientist calculated that prior to 2003 5 exabytes (5 billion gigabytes) of data had been produced from the beginning of human history, by 2011 that amount was produced every two days, in 2013 that much is generated every ten minutes.

How this data is managed and who manages it are significant issues. What is undeniable is that most of us are becoming data managers of one kind or another…

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