Doing nothing does something: Embodiment and data in the COVID-19 pandemic

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    10 Citations (Scopus)


    The COVID-19 pandemic redefines how we think about the body, physiologically and socially. But what does it mean to have and to be a body in the COVID-19 pandemic? The COVID-19 pandemic offers data scholars the unique opportunity, and perhaps obligation, to revisit and reinvent the fundamental concepts of our mediated experiences. The article critiques the data double, a longstanding concept in critical data and media studies, as incompatible with the current public health and social distancing imperative. The data double, instead, is now the presupposition of a new data entity, which will emerge out of a current data shimmer: a long-sustaining transition that blurs the older boundaries of bodies and the social, and establishes new ethical boundaries around the (in)activity and (im)mobility of doing nothing to do something. The data double faces a unique dynamic in the COVID-19 pandemic between boredom and exhaustion. Following the currently simple rule to stay home presents data scholars the opportunity to revisit the meaning of data as something given, a shimmering embodied relationship with data that contributes to the common good in a global health crisis.

    Original languageEnglish
    JournalBig Data and Society
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Jan. 2020


    • COVID-19
    • data double
    • data shimmer
    • embodiment
    • pandemic
    • quarantine


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