Participatory personal data: An emerging research challenge for the information sciences

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Abstract

Individuals can increasingly collect data about their habits, routines, and environment using ubiquitous technologies. Running specialized software, personal devices such as phones and tablets can capture and transmit users’ location, images, motion, and text input. The data collected by these devices are both personal (identifying of an individual) and participatory (accessible by that individual for aggregation, analysis, and sharing). Such participatory personal data provide a new area of inquiry for the information sciences. This article presents a review of literature from diverse fields, including information science, technology studies, surveillance studies, and participatory research traditions to explore how participatory personal data relate to existing personal data collections created by both research and surveillance. It applies three information perspectives—information policy, information access and equity, and data curation and preservation—to illustrate social impacts and concerns engendered by this new form of data collection. These perspectives suggest a set of research challenges for information science posed by participatory personal data.

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