Sketch 2: Peer Review for Jonathan Wald
Hi, Jonathan! Thank you for your contribution, it was very interesting. Although I am working on the phenomenon of Big Data and its technicians (especially in companies, where this phenomenon is very well established), and you are studying environmental scientists, I consider that there are some points where our work intersects, and where your contribution has led me to reflect.
You have pointed out that a rather large percentage of the work of these environmental scientists consists of the compilation of digital data. I am struck by the reflectivity of these scientists in relation to the data they handle. In the areas I work in, the technicians tend to be less reflective in relation to the data they handle, and there is even a certain tendency to forget that this data refers to people and their lives. It is therefore an object to be worked on, polished, maintained, improved or manufactured, and even a problem to be solved through a logical-mathematical language and the constant learning of new techniques. However, it seems that the data with which the technicians you refer to work are loaded with moral, ethical and political tensions. I wonder if this has to do with the political and environmental situation you describe, or if it is typical of environmental technicians.
On the other hand, and taking advantage of your philosophical formation, I wanted to share with you a reflection that has been with me for some time. As I said before, the data technicians I work with seem to have a certain tendency to ignore the person from whom the information they handle comes, which has serious consequences on decision making, algorithm design or maintenance tasks. I wonder, if, in this circulation of data, technicians tend to induce an ontological transformation of the data: an entity of its own? a representation? a reference?
Do you think that something similar happens among environmental scientists?
I apologise for the length of my questions, and, again, thank you for your insight!