Policy Press

Publishing with Purpose

Data Lives

How Data Are Made and Shape Our World

By Rob Kitchin


3 Feb 2021

Page count

208 pages




216 x 138 mm


Bristol University Press


3 Feb 2021

Page count

208 pages





Bristol University Press
£18.99 £15.19You save £3.80 (20%)
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    Data Lives

    The word ‘data’ has entered everyday conversation, but do we really understand what it means? How can we begin to grasp the scope and scale of our new data-rich world, and can we truly comprehend what is at stake?

    In Data Lives, renowned social scientist Rob Kitchin explores the intricacies of data creation and charts how data-driven technologies have become essential to how society, government and the economy work.

    Creatively blending scholarly analysis, biography and fiction, he demonstrates how data are shaped by social and political forces, and the extent to which they influence our daily lives.

    He reveals our data world to be one of potential danger, but also of hope.

    "A powerful and important account of the role data plays in shaping everyday life from a world leading researcher with decades of experience in the field." James Ash, Newcastle University

    “An anthropologist and a computer scientist walk into a café… Using diverse narrative styles, this book provides an engaging and important account of the choices and contexts that shape the data that increasingly impact our lives.” Teresa Scassa, University of Ottawa

    “Rob Kitchin is engaged in making our datafied world more liveable. He asks not just how our digital selves are constructed, managed and marketed by others, but how we might connect to that process and influence it.” Linnet Taylor, Tilburg University

    "We all use data to tell stories. In this tremendous book, Rob Kitchin tells stories too, prompting us to reimagine how data lives and how we live with it.” Paul Dourish, University of California, Irvine

    "A staggering volume that knowingly and skillfully upends established visions of our data lives. Surprising, unpredictable and inspiring. By breaking the patterns of commentary and mixing-up the style of academic writing this will be a landmark and transformative text from one of the foremost thinkers in the field." David Beer, University of York

    “Rob Kitchin’s appealing and innovative use of data stories propels the reader right into complex discussions about data creation and use - a thought-provoking and highly enjoyable read.” Sandra Collins, National Library of Ireland.

    “Written in a very accessible and engaging format, ‘Data lives’ is a brilliant tour de force of how data shapes our everyday lives and is shaped by the ways we produce it. This is going to be a key reference for years to come.” Ayona Datta, Institution: University College London, UK

    "Data Lives is the ultimate resource for all of us who have wondered what happens to our data after they enter the ether beyond our digital devices, where we only briefly encounter data along what are revealed to be complex and often surprising trajectories." Agnieszka Leszczynski, Western University

    Rob Kitchin is a Professor in the Maynooth University Social Sciences Institute, Ireland. He is author/editor of a number of books about technology and society and is a recipient of the Royal Irish Academy’s Gold Medal for the Social Sciences.

    Part 1 ~ Introduction

    Data Stories

    Part 2 ~ the Life of Data

    Blind Data

    The Nature of Data


    In Data We Trust

    How to Lose (and Regain) 3.6 Billion Euros

    Harmonizing Data Is Hard

    Open and Shut Case

    The Politics of Building Civic Tech

    So More Trumps Better?

    Hustling for Funding

    The Secret Science of Formulas

    The End of the Data Lifecycle

    Part 3 ~ Living With Data

    Traces and Shadows

    Recommended Life

    The Quantified Self

    Fighting Fires

    Management by Metrics

    Guinea Pigs

    Big Brother Is Watching and Controlling You

    Security Theatre

    When a Country Ignores Its Own Data

    Data Theft

    Data for the People, by the People

    Black Data Matters

    Part 4 ~ Conclusion

    A Matter of Life and Death

    Data Futures