Five misconceptions about Personal Data: Why we need a people-centred approach to “Big” Data
Article first published online: 11 FEB 2014
© 2013 by The American Anthropological Association. Some rights reserved.
Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference Proceedings
Volume 2013, Issue 1, pages 32–43, September 2013
How to Cite
MARGOLIS, A. (2013), Five misconceptions about Personal Data: Why we need a people-centred approach to “Big” Data. Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference Proceedings, 2013: 32–43. doi: 10.1111/j.1559-8918.2013.00004.x
- Issue published online: 11 FEB 2014
- Article first published online: 11 FEB 2014
We produce vast amounts of data in our daily lives. Email, text, search, check-in, photos, payments – all these activities create a trail of digital exhaust. This personal data has been triumphantly declared a “new asset class” by the WEF, compared to oil as the world's newest economic resource, and sparked a big data race to gather it. This paper argues that this gold rush can obscure the real value of personal data by forgetting a fundamental rule of innovation: start with the person. The paper draws on global ethnographic research with data-driven individuals, experts, and start-ups to address five common misconceptions about personal data. It concludes with a set of simple principles and business case examples to bring a human-centred, small data perspective to life.