What Data Tells Us

Jer Thorp: data artist, emerging explorer, innovator and author of his first book “Living in Data:A Citizen’s Guide to a Better Information Future.” Thorp has been known for his works of art made from data sets, pieces like plotting connections in the Times’ archives, mapping the world’s travel patterns via “just landed” tweets, and building the tool behind the placement of names on Manhattan’s 9/11 Memorial. Thorp is a Brooklyn based artist and has a background in generative art. Before becoming a data artist he was trained as a geneticist. Thorp had very little knowledge of graphs and data sets before using them to create art which he says was an advantage for him.

“To live in data is to be incessantly extracted from; to be classified and categorized, statisfi-fied, sold and surveilled.” A quote from his book Living in Data Thorp believes that data has a very bright and open minded future. There is still a lot to be told about how data can be used. From his book I can take away the idea that data can shape our lives and by creatively using data for our advantage it will help us in the future and with future data sets. From his interview we can take away that he is very mindful of his work and he chooses to meet the people he is going to work with before working with a data set involving them and he will not work on data set of a specific place unless he has been there himself, understanding the entire picture and having a clear background of the data set he is working on is extremely important to him.

Digital studies can fit into this discussion of data because as we are developing and learning new things and understanding how to use different tools in the digital world data is something that comes along with that and being able to understand that everything we do online generates data and is used for numerous purposes is a part of digital literacy.

Taking the time to understand data in the sense of how we generate it as consumers is important because our data is something that people are always trying to get a hold of, companies are making it easier to gain access to our data to generate targeted ads and profile us. Taking the time to understand data and the importance of its privacy will keep your information safe.

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