Cyber-human systems of thought and understanding

Fred Fonseca, Michael Marcinkowski, Clodoveu Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The present challenge faced by scientists working with Big Data comes in the overwhelming volume and level of detail provided by current data sets. Exceeding traditional empirical approaches, Big Data opens a new perspective on scientific work in which data comes to play a role in the development of the scientific problematic to be developed. Addressing this reconfiguration of our relationship with data through readings of Wittgenstein, Macherey, and Popper, we propose a picture of science that encourages scientists to engage with the data in a direct way, using the data itself as an instrument for scientific investigation. Using GIS as a theme, we develop the concept of cyber-human systems of thought and understanding to bridge the divide between representative (theoretical) thinking and (non-theoretical) data-driven science. At the foundation of these systems, we invoke the concept of the “semantic pixel” to establish a logical and virtual space linking data and the work of scientists. It is with this discussion of the relationship between analysts in their pursuit of knowledge and the rise of Big Data that this present discussion of the philosophical foundations of Big Data addresses the central questions raised by social informatics research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)402-411
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the Association for Information Science and Technology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Information Systems
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Information Systems and Management
  • Library and Information Sciences


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