The unbearable lightness of information and the impossible gravitas of knowledge: Big Data and the makings of a digital orality
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This essay is written in response and extension to the thoughts offered by danah boyd and Kate Crawford on whether Big Data change how we define knowledge. I suggest that they do not, but they do reinforce and reproduce a form of communicating knowledge that I have been referring to as a digital orality. Online networked platforms, supportive of Big Data and a variety of similar analytical formulations, blend interpersonal and mass storytelling practices variably, offering a reconciliation of primary and secondary orality tendencies and tensions. Literacy, in the form of asking questions about the origins, the textures, and the implications of Big Data, paves the path toward rendering data, small or large, into new modalities of storytelling that a digital orality affords, mastering this orality, and turning these stories into meaningful forms of situated knowledge.