The invisible work of data
Elements for a sociology of scriptural infrastructures
Open, massive, raw… data are at the heart of many debates today. Optimists see it as a natural resource whose harvest and circulation are revolutionizing innovation and democracy, while pessimists portray them as the fuel of mechanisms that will only benefit the powerful and reinforce inequalities. In the face of enthusiasm and panic, of the vocabulary of transparency, fluidity and automation that they mobilize, this book takes a step aside and defends the need to study the concrete modalities of data production and circulation. Data never fall from the sky. Nor do they rise to the surface of organizations. Prior to their promising or disturbing processing, they are the subject of work whose very nature, organization and processes that lead to its invisibility remain to be explored. By articulating the contributions of the sociology of science and technology, history, the anthropology of writing, the sociology of work and accounting studies, the book composes an original conceptual and methodological toolkit for questioning as closely as possible this data work, which has become central in companies and administrations from the end of the 19th century.
2018, Presses des mines (available now on the Presses des mines’ website, and in bookstores from 5 April, 2018)
“Entretien avec Jérôme Denis à propos de son livre Le travail invisible des données”, by Jean Bastien, published on September 6, 2018 in non-fiction.fr Le quotidien des livres et des idées
Read the introduction: La face cachée des données