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Live Data: Research in Real- Time Methods North West

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1 Live Data: Research in Real- Time Methods North West

2 Live Data: Research in Real-Time Broad purpose: to bring together academics, postgraduates and practitioners from different fields and traditions to discuss the challenges and possibilities connected with ‘live data’ in its many forms Problem of working with/managing real-time information now centre stage in various domains of social life: finance, economics, government, business, the workplace but also more, e.g. the home A development the social sciences have taken up in a number of ways 2

3 Live Data: Research in Real-Time Routine collection of large volumes of real-time data (and the consequences of doing so) increasingly seen as qualitatively different to what came before Collection of real-time data creates what has been variously termed the problem of, e.g., the new data, big data, transactional data, administrative data, open data, crowd- sourced data, networked data, live data, the social stream, etc. The “proliferation of ‘social’ transactional data which are now routinely collected, processed and analysed by a wide variety of private and public institutions” (Savage & Burrows 2007: 885) said to have major implications for social life Emergence has gone hand-in-hand with discussion of overload caused by an “information explosion” (Philippe 2012) or “data deluge” (Savage & Burrows 2007) 3

4 Live Data: Research in Real-Time Lury, Parisi & Terranova have put it as follows: “The significance of... ‘live data’, is a consequence... of the introduction and operation of dynamic feedback loops, and... their use in diverse, iterative and automatic information processing systems... [as part of the] shift towards interactive algorithms and responsive computing” (2012: 14) “[M]any of today’s indices, such as the derivatives of the financial market, the indicators of behaviour employed in the joined-up databases of government, and the algorithmic operations of the software programs that help comprise Facebook and Google, are implicated in... [open,] active or dynamic... environment[s]... not static or inert space[s]” (2012: 14) 4

5 Live Data: Research in Real-Time Growing awareness of importance of ‘live’ data of all kinds (from, e.g., complex numerical information, through micro-blogging, to pictures and audio-video posting) has gone hand-in-hand with growing awareness of challenges it poses for the social sciences Philippe (2012) suggests the kinds of real-time information now being routinely collected “may be characterised in terms of the three ‘Vs’: volume – the unprecedented quantity of data; variety – the heterogeneous forms that these data take; and velocity – the constant renewal and flow of these data.” Together, he suggests, “these characteristics comprise a data- complexity that poses major challenge for social scientific research”, particularly in terms of its “conventional categories and assumptions” Philippe’s warnings echo those being made in many others: the consensus position seems to be that these new forms of real-time data demand a critical re-examination of old methods 5

6 Live Data: Research in Real-Time For example, Lury, Parisi and Terranova suggest that, under current conditions, the “issue of what... [we] understand as method becomes particularly important” (2012: 25) Gane is more explicit, claiming “mainstream empirical sociology today faces a crisis of methodological invention, particularly where qualitative and quantitative techniques are [concerned]” (2012: 153) For Gane, it has become increasingly important to “revisit complex questions regarding the value of measurement... and to think more creatively about what method is and what it might help us to achieve” (2012: 160) Only by engaging in that rethink will it be possible to move “beyond existing methodological and theoretical dogmas” (2012: 170), those associated in particular with reliance on staples such as the sample survey and the in-depth interview but also methodological ‘monocultures’ more generally (see also Savage and Burrows 2007) 6

7 Live Data: Research in Real-Time Engaging with ‘live data’ seems to demand a rethink of old methods, then, but also the creation of new ones: ‘live methods’ (Back & Puwar 2012), ‘inventive methods’ (Lury & Wakeford 2012), ‘mobile methods’ (Büscher & Urry 2009), ‘creative methods’ (Mason & Dale 2011) How quantitative researchers have responded provides the focus of the morning session today Dr. Mark Elliot begins by outlining the challenges posed by the new data and ways in which quantitative researchers can adapt/have adapted methodologically in response Dr. Karyn Morrissey, Dr. Rahul Savani and Dr. Paul Devine then follow with discussions of two of those new methods: individual level modelling and micro-simulation with administrative data and agent-based market models based on financial data With backgrounds in sociology, geography, maths and computer science, the morning session also demonstrates the cross- disciplinary character of innovation in these areas 7

8 Live Data: Research in Real-Time However, crisis talk and the emphasis of the ‘new’ can disguise the fact that many aspects of the problems of and interest in live data have a long provenance Particularly true in fields where studies involve direct encounters with people in real-world settings of all kinds: e.g. anthropology, sociology, socio-linguistics and various practitioner disciplines In these fields, the problems of ‘live data’ and how to make sense of ‘social action in real-time’ (Button 1991) have been and remain central Ethnomethodology, with its focus on ‘temporal orders of practical action’, is of particular interest in this regard and in the afternoon session we turn to work in this particular area of inquiry 8

9 Live Data: Research in Real-Time Dr. Dave Randall opens with his talk, ‘Live Data – Ethnomethodology, Ethnography and the Studies of Work Programme’, in which he discusses ethnomethodological studies of new work practices and technologies Dr. Eric Laurier follows with a discussion of his current work on video-editing, a study of a form of hands-on engagement with events captured in real-time The session concludes with Dr. Mark Rouncefield on ‘ethnomethodology at play’, using a video of a bed-time story to open up considerations about the status of ‘live data’ The morning and afternoon talks, therefore, provide overviews and examples of distinctive ways of approaching the analysis of real-time practices and processes 9

10 Live Data: Research in Real-Time References Garfinkel 1967, 1986, 2002: Studies in Ethnomethodology; Ethnomethodological Studies of Work; Ethnomethodology’s Program Goodman 1978: Ways of Worldmaking Latour 1979, 1987, 2005: Laboratory Life; Science in Action; Reassembling the Social Alpers 1983: The Art of Describing Hacking 1983: Representing and Intervening Lynch 1985, 1993: Art and Artifact in Laboratory Science; Scientific Practice and Ordinary Action Shapin, Schaffer 1985: Leviathan and the Air Pump Clifford, Marcus 1986: Writing Culture Sacks 1992: Lectures on Conversation Gupta and Ferguson 1997: Anthropological Locations Bowker, Star 1999: Sorting Things Out 10

11 Live Data: Research in Real-Time References Osborne, Rose 1999, 2004: ‘Do The Social Sciences Create Phenomena? The Example of Public Opinion Research’; ‘Spatial Phenomenotechnics: Making Space with Charles Booth and Patrick Geddes’ Maynard, Schaeffer 2000: ‘Toward a Sociology of Social Scientific Knowledge’ Beck 2005: ‘How Not to Become a Museum Piece’ Savage, Burrows 2007: ‘The Coming Crisis of Empirical Sociology’ Osborne, Rose, Savage 2008: ‘(Re)Inscribing the History of British Sociology’ Adkins, Lury 2009, 2012: ‘What is the Empirical?’; Measure and Value Savage 2009: ‘Some Further Reflections on the Coming Crisis of Empirical Sociology’ Ingold 2010: ‘Bringing Things to Life, Creative Entanglements in a World of Materials’ 11

12 Live Data: Research in Real-Time References Savage 2010: Identities and Social Change in Britain since 1940: The Politics of Method Camic, Gross, Lamont 2011: Social Knowledge in the Making Law, Ruppert, Savage 2011: ‘The Social Life of Methods’ Mason, Dale 2011: Understanding Social Research, Thinking Creatively about Method Saetnan, Lomell, Hammer 2011: The Mutual Construction of Statistics and Society Gane 2012: ‘Measure, Value and the Current Crises of Sociology’ Lury, Wakeford 2012: Inventive Methods: The Happening of the Social Back, Puwar 2012: Live Methods BMJ 2013: Evidence Live 12


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