The language we use to describe data can also help us fix its problems

Luke Stark & Anna Lauren Hoffmann at Quartz: “Data is, apparently, everything.

It’s the “new oil” that fuels online business. It comes in floods or tsunamis. We access it via “streams” or “fire hoses.” We scrape it, mine it, bank it, and clean it. (Or, if you prefer your buzzphrases with a dash of ageism and implicit misogyny, big data is like “teenage sex,” while working with it is “the sexiest job” of the century.)

These data metaphors can seem like empty cliches, but at their core they’re efforts to come to grips with the continuing onslaught of connected devices and the huge amounts of data they generate.

In a recent article, we—an algorithmic-fairness researcher at Microsoft and a data-ethics scholar at the University of Washington—push this connection one step further. More than simply helping us wrap our collective heads around data-fueled technological change, we set out to learn what these metaphors can teach us about the real-life ethics of collecting and handling data today.

Instead of only drawing from the norms and commitments of computer science, information science, and statistics, what if we looked at the ethics of the professions evoked by our data metaphors instead?…(More)”.