Christine L. Borgman
iInstitute Inauguration Speech

Big Data, Little Data, or No data? iSchools, Scholarship, and Stewardship

Since 2017 Linnaeus University is a member of the worldwide iSchool organisation - this is the inaugural speech for the iInstitute at Linnaeus University.

Christine L. Borgman

The growth of information studies, as reflected by the international expansion of iSchools, reflects a broad research and teaching agenda in social, technical, institutional, and political aspects of the information society. As data science, scholarship, and stewardship are central to the iSchool agenda, they provide a framework to launch the new iSchool at Linnaeus University. Whereas almost all fields of scholarship today are conducting data-intensive research, only a few areas are adept at exploiting "big data." "Little data" remains the norm in those many fields where evidence is scarce and labor-intensive to acquire. Until recently, data was considered part of the process of scholarship, essential but largely invisible. In the "big data" era, data have become valuable products to be captured, shared, reused, and stewarded for the long term. They also have become contentious intellectual property to be protected. Public policy leans toward open access to research data, but rarely provides the public investment necessary to sustain access. Enthusiasm for big data is obscuring the complexity and diversity of data in scholarship and the challenges for stewardship. Data practices are local, varying from field to field, individual to individual, and country to country. As the number and variety of research partners expands, so do the difficulties of sharing, reusing, and sustaining access to data. Until the larger questions of knowledge infrastructures and stewardship are addressed by research communities, "no data" may become the norm for many fields. This talk will explore the stakes and stakeholders in research data, focusing on implications for iSchool policy and practice, drawing upon the presenter's book, Big Data, Little Data, No Data: Scholarship in the Networked World (MIT Press, 2015), and subsequent research.

Christine L. Borgman, Distinguished Professor and Presidential Chair in Information Studies at UCLA, is the author of more than 250 publications in information studies, computer science, and communication. These include three books from MIT Press: Big Data, Little Data, No Data: Scholarship in the Networked World (2015), winner of the 2015 American Publishers Award for Professional and Scholarly Excellence (PROSE Award) in Computing and Information Sciences; Scholarship in the Digital Age: Information, Infrastructure, and the Internet (2007); and From Gutenberg to the Global Information Infrastructure: Access to Information in a Networked World (2000). The latter two books won the Best Information Science Book of the Year award from the Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIST). She is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the Association for Computing Machinery. At UCLA, she directs the Center for Knowledge Infrastructures with funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and other sources.

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This lecture will be held in English and it is open to everyone. Welcome!

Link to the iInstitute at Linnaeus University

Link to the Digital Humanities Initiative at Linnaeus University

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