Broken data: Conceptualising data in an emerging world

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In this article, we introduce and demonstrate the concept-metaphor of broken data. In doing so, we advance critical discussions of digital data by accounting for how data might be in processes of decay, making, repair, re-making and growth, which are inextricable from the ongoing forms of creativity that stem from everyday contingencies and improvisatory human activity. We build and demonstrate our argument through three examples drawn from mundane everyday activity: the incompleteness, inaccuracy and dispersed nature of personal self-tracking data; the data cleaning and repair processes of Big Data analysis and how data can turn into noise and vice versa when they are transduced into sound within practices of music production and sound art. This, we argue is a necessary step for considering the meaning and implications of data as it is increasingly mobilised in ways that impact society and our everyday worlds.


External organisations
  • RMIT University
  • University of Helsinki
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Other Humanities not elsewhere specified


  • Digital data, broken world theory, repair, improvisation, ethnography
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
JournalBig Data and Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Jan 11
Publication categoryResearch

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