AbstractBig Data is nothing new. Public concern regarding the mass diffusion of data has appeared repeatedly with computing innovations, in the formation before Big Data it was most recently referred to as the information explosion. In this essay, I argue that the appeal of Big Data is not a function of computational power, but of a synergistic relationship between aesthetic order and a politics evacuated of a meaningful public deliberation. Understanding, and challenging, Big Data requires an attention to the aesthetics of data visualization and the ways in which those aesthetics would seem to depoliticize information. The conclusion proposes an alternative argumentative aesthetic as the appropriate response to the depoliticization posed by the popular imaginary of Big Data.
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