What We Talk about When We Talk Data: Valences and the Social Performance of Multiple Metrics in Digital Health

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BRITTANY FIORE-SILFVAST and GINA NEFF

Data as a discursive concept in and around data-intensive health and wellness communities evokes multiple social values and social lives for data. Drawing on two years of qualitative, ethnographic observations, participation, and interviews in these communities, our work explores the gap between discourses of data, the practices with and around data, and the contexts in which data “live.” Across the communities of technology designers, “e-health” providers and advocates, and users of health and wellness data, we find that tensions emerge not around the meaning or legitimacy of particular data points, but rather around how data is expected to perform socially, organizationally and institutionally, what we term data valences. Our paper identifies data valences in health and wellness data, shows how these valences are mediated, and demonstrates that distinct data valences are more apparent in the interstitial interactions occurring in the spaces between institutions or among powerful stakeholder groups.

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  3 comments for “What We Talk about When We Talk Data: Valences and the Social Performance of Multiple Metrics in Digital Health

  1. September 26, 2017 at 4:16 pm

    […] What We Talk about When We Talk Data: Valences and the Social Performance of Multiple Metrics in Dig…, Brittany Fiore-Silfvast and Gina Neff […]

  2. March 7, 2018 at 1:16 am

    […] number of publications at EPIC (e.g., by Churchill, Nafus, Norvaisas & Karpfen, and Fiore-Silfvast & Neff) and elsewhere (e.g., by Elish & boyd and Kitchin) have also furthered the discussion about […]

  3. May 14, 2018 at 9:02 pm

    […] What We Talk about when We Talk about Data, Brittany Fiore-Silfvast & Gina Neff […]

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