Data diaries: a situated approach to the study of data

Tkacz, Nathaniel; da Mata Martins, Mário Henrique; de Albuquerque, João Porto; Horita, Flávio and Neto, Giovanni Dolif. 2021. Data diaries: a situated approach to the study of data. Big Data & Society, 8(1), pp. 1-16. ISSN 2053-9517 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This article adapts the ethnographic medium of the diary to develop a method for studying data and related data practices. The article focuses on the creation of one data diary, developed iteratively over three years in the context of a national centre for monitoring disasters and natural hazards in Brazil (Cemaden). We describe four points of focus involved in the creation of a data diary – spaces, interfaces, types and situations – before reflecting on the value of this method. We suggest data diaries (1) are able to capture the informal dimension of data-intensive organisations; (2) enable empirical analysis of the specific ways that data intervene in the unfolding of situations; and (3) as a document, data diaries can foster interdisciplinary and inter-expert dialogue by bridging different ways of knowing data.

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Additional Information:

Dr. Mário Henrique da Mata Martins acknowledges the post-doc fellowship, process number 2019/06595-2, São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP).


Data diary, datafication, data space, data interface, situation, critical data studies, data methods

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies


24 March 2021Published Online

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Date Deposited:

26 Sep 2023 14:57

Last Modified:

26 Sep 2023 15:16

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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