Or, is there a politics implicit in big data? What would it look like if you took it to its extreme? From InfoGlut, by Mark Andrejevic, loc 3148-3165:
If Beck is a specialist in the art of choosing his gut instincts over the potentially deceptive words of others – especially those of the academic “elites,” researchers, historians, and scientists dismissed with a knowing aside – he also operates, unsurprisingly, at the level of pure correlation: unearthing patterns largely divorced from any connection to underlying meaning or surrounding context and attaching profound significance to them. The results come across as a kind of parody of the notion that unstructured data can generate useful connections. It is almost as if Beck is embracing the dis- embedded post- referential logic described by Chris Anderson in his discussion of the big data era – except Beck is no super- computer, and the data he processes is far from “big” rather, it tends to be limited, selective, and skewed. The results of his scattered “research” come across as borderline nonsensical – like a parody of pattern- based reasoning. Put somewhat differently, they partake of the kind of logic that emerges when meaning no longer matters. Consider, for example, Beck’s description of the link between George Soros and Osama bin Laden: “So let’s see if we have this right: Israel and the U.S. are an obstacle to what he [Soros] and his groups believe should happen. Huh! You know who else thinks that? Osama bin Laden. And, oh, I know, how about, like Iran.” 51 And there you have it, a kind of nonsensical chain of equivalence: Soros is, in his intentions, complicit with Osama bin Laden, and let’s throw Iran in there, too, since they all fall within the embrace of the master category of evil. Of course, Beck does not say outright Soros is a Nazi (Soros is a Hungarian Jew who had to take on a fake identity while his family went into hiding during the Nazi occupation) – he merely makes a chain of equivalence in his, “I’m- just- sayin’…”mode.