Posted by: Jeremy Fox | September 17, 2011

Questions about “Big Data” in ecology

Thanks to the influence of NCEAS, the internet, advances in computer hardware and software, advances in gene sequencing, the advent of NEON, and probably other factors I’m forgetting, ecology is entering the era of “Big Data”. But we’re far from the only field that’s doing so. And so in thinking about both the opportunities and advantages, and the possible pitfalls or drawbacks of this new era, I don’t think we should be thinking solely, or even primarily, about issues that are unique to ecology. Neither the biggest benefits nor the biggest costs of “Big Data” are ecology-specific (e.g., “We’re devaluing natural history!”). For some provocative thoughts on the potential costs of “Big Data” (developed primarily in a social science context but mostly still quite relevant to ecology), have a look at this new paper by boyd and Crawford.

Ethan White’s rebuttal in the comments in 3…2…1…


  1. Hi Jeremy, I’m in the process of writing an opinion/summary piece about the use of the GPDD data sets, which seems to tie in with this and your previous post, so thanks for the links, very useful.

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