What does the term “Big Data” refer to?

ASSIGNMENT: Answer TWO of the questions below, in between 1,250 and 2,000 words. 


1. What does the term “Big Data” refer to? What ethical issues are central to it? Research scholars’ responses to big data as a paradigm, and offer a discussion of the ethical concerns that have arisen from “data brokering” and/or the theorizing of big data. Along the way, try to explain why information is so valuable, and what “information” means in the context of big data.


2. Marc Andrejevic has closely analyzed the logic of corporate social networks, and has raised a series of concerns over them. They include concerns over the asymmetry of privacy loss, the construction and privatization of an ever-richer data profile of users, and the general exploitation of users enabled by terms of service agreements that enforce separation and which return the labor of individual users as an alien force against them.


Dig further into one or more of the claims made by Andrejevic, being sure you’ve fully explained the significance of the claim. Write a critical analysis of his argument, drawing on outside works that either comment directly on his piece, or which make relevant arguments that help illuminate the true promise and threat posed by social media platforms.


3. Examine and review one of the articles from Vol 13, No. 2 (2015) of Surveillance and Security Intelligence after Snowden (Part I). Your task is to identify the main points of the article, summarize them fairly and fully, and then subject them to critical evaluation.



4. Offer an analysis and critical review of the 4-part series, “Top Secret America,” particularly as it pertains to the issue of the privatization of national security work. Have Priest and Arkin, in your view, fairly portrayed the issue? Have they raised the proper concerns surrounding the completion of secretive security work? What have others concerned with the same issue had to say about it that’s noteworthy? What ultimately should be considered best practice w/r/t the privatization of national security work?




5.Climate scientist Kevin Anderson has made the following claim about the environment within which climate science is carried out and its conclusions shared with the public:


There is a very clear understanding amongst virtually all of the academics I engage with, whether directly on projects or simply through discussions following seminars etc. that  “growth” is sacrosanct. Economics trumps physics – and given, from a funding and career perspective, it is unwise to suggest that our scientific conclusions beg questions of the ‘immutable economic logic’ of modern society, we find ways of reconciling the two. Not by fiddling data but typically by adopting expedient assumptions . . . the more we reluctantly subscribe to such expediency the more we begin to forget we’re doing so reluctantly, and the more the rhetoric becomes the only ‘reality’ – very Orwellian!




Beginning resources:


http://kevinanderson.info/blog/category/quick-comment/ (peruse the three blog posts btw Jan 2016 and Aug 24, 2016)




6. What is the relationship between big data technologies and what is called “the internet of things”? What ethical issues, if any, should be addressed in scrutinizing the value of the IOT? Does automation on this level pose ethical threats that cannot be overcome?

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