Data is plural

Talk by Gavin Freeguard (He/Him) 👩‍👩‍👧‍👧

Saturday from 5:00 PM - 5:20 PM in Stage C

I once accidentally got YouGov to poll whether it should be ‘the data is’ or ‘the data are’. Whether you favour 'are' or 'is', in many ways, data is plural. When we talk about data, we’re talking about different things, contexts, needs, and perspectives. Thinking of ‘data’ as a singular thing brings risks. We always have to set data in a more plural context and can never think about ‘just’ the data. And data we think of as being about us – singular, as individuals – is often about a plurality of others, and its value – to governments and tech companies – is in plurality or aggregate. All of this means we need to rethink our approach to data and take a relational, collective and democratic - a plural, political and human – approach.

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