Jim Thatcher is an Assistant Professor in Urban Studies at the University of Washington – Tacoma. His research drives at intersections between GIScience, Critical Geography, and Urban Studies as part of a nascent subfield called Critical Data Studies. His current research focuses on the provenance of purported ‘big data,’ and the recursive sociocultural processes that constitute it. His work on data, mobile applications, and urban environments has been featured in The Atlantic and on NPR. Most recently, he was awarded an NSF CyberGIS fellowship to develop new curriculum around emerging geospatial technologies.
I outline the oft-overlooked means by which end-users come to embrace and reject the mobile applications through which spatial data are created, commodified, and controlled. These processes necessitate a rethinking of the epistemological leap from individual to data point through a (re)seating of the individual subject as object of ‘big data’ research.