The ‘what’ but not the ‘why’ — on the limitations of big-data.

Great writing as always, Donna! I especially like how you’ve mentioned what big data CAN explain, whilst still arguing your point that it is not particularly useful for explaining the whys. Despite the fact that I am reading this post from a background where my analyses methods are primarily statistics based, we tend to share the same views — something I have admittedly been reluctant to acknowledge up until recently. I often wonder how statistics can explain phenomena like depression and anxiety — “how depressed are you on a scale of 1–10?” does not seem to cut it for me.

One thing I’d like to suggest, however, is the consideration of mixed methodology as a way for the inclusivity of both quantitative and qualitative analyses. I am leaning toward this kind of methodology for my thesis… that way I can measure the what’s as well as the who’s and the when’s, but still try to elucidate the lived in experiences of the phenomena I am questioning— the why’s and even maybe the how’s.

Overall great work! I can’t wait to read your next post :)


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