Big Data, Big Questions| Metaphors of Big Data

Cornelius Puschmann, Jean Burgess


Metaphors are a common instrument of human cognition, activated when seeking to make sense of novel and abstract phenomena. In this article we assess some of the values and assumptions encoded in the framing of the term big data, drawing on the framework of conceptual metaphor. We first discuss the terms data and big data and the meanings historically attached to them by different usage communities and then proceed with a discourse analysis of Internet news items about big data. We conclude by characterizing two recurrent framings of the concept: as a natural force to be controlled and as a resource to be consumed.


data, big data, conceptual metaphor, semantics, science, technology, discourse analysis

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