In the following article, Van Dijk studies the concept of datafication by looking at its underlying philosophy and the concepts of dataism and dataveillance. Together, these three concepts form the overarching theoretical framework of the reading. Van Dijk’s central claim seeks to understand the attitude required in understanding the free flow and dissemination of information, by looking at how governments, academia and business corporations make use of one’s personal data. Following an introduction, the paper is broken down into four sections, conceptualizing firstly, datafication as the new paradigm, secondly, the logic of dataism in relation to datafication, thirdly, dataism in relation to trust and lastly, the notion of dataveillance in relation to credibility. To begin with, the paper suggests how through bridging the boundaries between offline and online, datafication has enabled corporations, governments, and academia to easily access and monitor one’s social behavior. Social media’s affordances help to create quantified social interactions which are easily available and valuable to third parties who at times through a technologically deterministic view come to view social media platforms as neutral facilitators and user’s data as raw and spontaneous traces left behind. The following section considers the logic of dataism in relation to the logic of trust. In Van Dijk’s view, dataism, dismisses the objectivity of quantification, rendering the data as a natural phenomenon. Researchers, thus have a responsibility to critique, question and interpret data patterns in order to dismiss the assumption of data as a natural phenomenon. Through such questioning, a user’s trust on the various institutional agents will be more sustainable and prolonged. Most of society’s social interaction has moved onto the online sphere, thus requiring a higher level of trust and credibility. However, the establishment of such notions is often regarded as irrelevant to corporations and academia who see such responsibilities to lie solely in the hands of governments. Nevertheless, nowadays it is inevitable to overlook the interconnected nature of the online space where the state, business, and academia are all interconnected. Thus, as Van Dijk suggests it is important to make sense and be wary of how these institutional agents make use of one’s data. Such an interrogation leads to the logic of dataveillance which questions the entire credibility of the system of data and information flow. Van Dijk highlights how after Edward Snowden’s whistleblowing case, there has been a growing fight for trust by various social media corporations. Hence, to maintain trust in such a system, academia ought to delineate the subjectivity used in analyzing data patterns instead of hailing the data and the platforms as neutral. Van Dijk strongly believes that academics have an important role in building a system of trust.
This source has been insightful and innovative in discussing the theme of publicness in relation to the ubiquity and large availability of data through the concepts of datafication, dataveillance, and dataism. Here Van Dijk’s work has been useful in conceptualizing datafication as the new paradigm enabling corporations and governments to gather and quantify one’s every move. Although the concept of datafication was coined by Cukier and Schoenberger, Van Dijk expands on it through the concepts of dataism and dataveillance. Van Dijk’s work holds close similarity with Cukier and Schoenberger’s work on big data and datafication. There are a series of assumptions such as those posed by Cukier and Schoenberger about the objectivity of the data. Van Dijk’s and Cukier and Schoenberger’s views are somehow in dispute as on the one hand, datafication is presented by Cukier and Schoenberger as a neutral paradigm and on the other hand, Van Dijk believes otherwise claiming that neither big data is raw and neither platforms are neutral facilitators. Whereas Cukier and Schoenberger hail the objectivity of the researchers, Van Dijk urges researchers and academia have the responsibility to outline an institution’s or a government’s use of subjectivity in analyzing data to avoid the assumption of data as a natural happening and platforms as neutral enablers. Such transparency will thus create greater trust and credibility for institutions and governments. Overall, this source has served useful in bringing forth a distinct view of the notion of datafication. Although the source uses other’s theories as for the main method its limitation lies in the methodology of Van Dijk’s research which it fails to provide a clear method and examples for her study on datafication.