Reviews

Below are a sample of endorsements and reviews of the book.

‘A sober, nuanced and inspiring guide to big data with the highest signal to noise ratio of any book in the field.’  Matthew Fuller, Centre for Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths, University of London

‘Kitchin’s powerful, authoritative work deconstructs the hype around the ‘data revolution’ to carefully guide us through the histories and the futures of ‘big data.’ The book skilfully engages with debates from across the humanities, social sciences, and sciences in order to produce a critical account of how data are enmeshed into enormous social, economic, and political changes that are taking place. It challenges us to rethink data, information and knowledge by asking – who benefits and who might be left out; what these changes mean for ethics, economy, surveillance, society, politics; and ultimately, whether big data offer answers to big questions. By tackling the promises and potentials as well as the perils and pitfalls of our data revolution, Kitchin shows us that data doesn’t just reflect the world, but also changes it.’  Mark Graham, Oxford Internet Institute, Oxford University

With a lucid prose and without hyperbole, Kitchin explains the complexities and disruptive effects of what he calls ‘the data revolution’.  The book brilliantly provides an overview of the shifting socio-technical assemblages that are shaping the uses of data today. Carefully distinguishing between big data and open data, and exploring various data infrastructures, Kitchin vividly illustrates how the data landscape is rapidly changing and calls for a revolution in how we think about data. Evelyn Ruppert, Goldsmiths, University of London

‘This is a path-breaking book. Rob Kitchin has long been one of the leading figures in the conceptualisation and analysis of new forms of data, software and code. This book represents an important step-forward in our understanding of big data. It provides a grounded discussion of big data, explains why they matter and provides us with a framework to analyse their social presence. Anyone who wants to obtain a critical, conceptually honed and analytically refined perspective on new forms of data should read this book.’  David Beer, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, University of York

‘Data, the newest purported cure to many of the world’s most “wicked” problems, are ubiquitous; they’re shaping discourses, policies, and practices in our war rooms, our board rooms, our classrooms, our operating rooms, and even around our dinner tables. Yet given the precision and objectivity that the datum implies, it’s shocking to find such imprecision in how data are conceived, and such cloudiness in our understandings of how data are derived, analyzed, and put to use. Rob Kitchin’s timely, clear, and vital book provides a much needed critical framework. He explains that our ontologies of data, or how we understand what data are; our epistemologies of data, or how we conceive of data as units of truth, fact, or knowledge; our analytic methodologies, or the techniques we use to process that data; and our data apparatuses and institutions, or the tools and (often huge, heavy, and expensive) infrastructures we use to sort and store that data, are all entwined. And all have profound political, economic, and cultural implications that we can’t risk ignoring as we’re led into our “smart,” data-driven future.’  Shannon Mattern, Faculty, School of Media Studies, The New School

‘Data has become a new key word for our times. This is just the book I have been waiting for: a detailed and critical analysis that will make us think carefully about how data participate in social, cultural and spatial relations.’  Deborah Lupton, Centenary Research Professor News & Media Research Centre, University of Canberra

‘By carefully analysing data as a complex socio-technical assemblage, in this book Rob Kitchin discusses thought-provoking aspects of data as a technical, economic and social construct, that are often ignored or forgotten despite the increasing focus on data production and usage in contemporary life. This book unpacks the complexity of data as elements of knowledge production, and does not only provide readers from a variety of disciplinary areas with useful conceptual framings, but also with a challenging set of open issues to be further explored and engaged with as the “data revolution” progresses.’  Luigina Ciolfi, Sheffield Hallam University

‘Kitchin paints a nuanced and complex picture of the unfolding data landscape. Through a critique of the deepening technocratic, often corporate led, development of our increasingly data driven societies, he presents an alternative perspective which illuminates the contested, and contestable, nature of this acutely political and social terrain.’  Jo Bates, Information School, University of Sheffield

The Data Revolution is a timely intervention of critical reflection into the hyperbolic and fast-paced develop­ments in the gathering, analysis and workings of ‘big data’. This excellent book diagnoses the technical, ethical and scientific challenges raised by the data revolution, sounding a clarion for critical reflections on the prom­ise and problematic of the data revolution.’ Sam Kinsley, University of Exeter

“Much talk of big data is big hype. Different phenomena dumped together, a dearth of definitions and little discussion of the complex relationships that give rise to and shape big data practices sums it up. Rob Kitchin puts us in his debt by cutting through the cant and offering not only a clear analysis of the range, power and limits of big data assemblages but a pointer to the crucial social, political and ethical issues to which we should urgently attend. Read this book.”  David Lyon, Queen’s University, Canada

‘Data matter and have matter, and Rob Kitchin thickens this understanding by assembling the philosophical, social scientific, and popular media accounts of our data-based living. That the give and take of data is increasingly sig­nificant to the everyday has been the mainstay of Kitchin’s long and significant contribution to a critical technology studies. In The Data Revolution, he yet again implores us to think beyond the polemical, to signal a new generation of responsive and responsible data work. Importantly, he reminds us of the non-inevitability of data, articulating the registers within which interventions can and already are being made. Kitchin offers a manual, a set of operating instructions, to better grasp and grapple with the complexities of the coming world, of such a ‘data revolution’.’  Matthew W. Wilson, Harvard University and University of Kentucky

‘Rob Kitchin’s overview of “the data revolution” is the best monograph we have discovered on open and big data. It defines the issues of open and big data and the potential consequences of the data revolution. In a balanced way, and without the hyperbole of trade press books on big data, Kitchin explains that the data revolution has implications for governance, management of business, and even understanding of science and knowledge.’ Berkeley Law

The Data Revolution has that Ground Truth-level of impact feeling to it, and I strongly urge anyone with an interest in geospatial technologies, GIS, mapping, data, cartography, mashups, and related topics to read this book.  Could easily be justified as the #1 book for the year.”  Gwilym Eades, Place Memes

“Kitchin’s The Data Revolution is essential reading for anyone dealing with data. It is an extremely well informed and reflective book that is comprehensive in scope.  Kitchin convincingly argues how data analysis is always imbued with prior knowledge, assumptions about causation, and interpretations based on these. … I hope you will find The Data Revolution to be a useful recommendation for your own, and your students’,
reading lists.” Bettina Berendt, Debunking Bad Big Data Science

“This is an ideal guide to the essentials of what is data; what we are currently doing with it that is fundamentally different than in the past; and finally speculation and ramifications of both big and open for information systems.  Broken into several chapters, it occurs to me that this is the perfect outline for a complete overhaul of a data lecture.”  Geospex, Review handily summarizes the key points from a couple of the chapters in three posts: one, two, three

“Scholars new and old in CSCW will benefit from Kitchin’s in-depth examination of the many facets of long-term and emerging research in data studies. … The Data Revolution as a volume aims to parse the landscape of big data asmore than a hubristic and hype-driven rhetorical realm, but rather one that is critically framed and examined. Here Kitchin succeeds and offers an easily readable volume that draws on and complements the work of this journal. Readers immersed in data studies will find many well-known points succinctly presented. For those less familiar with such work this is an excellent introduction.” Drew Paine, Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW)

“The clear and measured writing style and logical progression of the chapters directs the reader through a balanced discussion of the so-called data revolution. …  this book [is] a must read for anyone interested in data’s ontological and epistemological framings. … The book is well referenced with in-text citations and an extensive reference list with which to seek further reading. This fact, along with its accessible style, lucid prose, and comprehensive coverage of diverse topics that the data revolution brings to light, make it a valuable text for anyone working within this area. Furthermore, it is the obvious choice as a textbook for the new courses springing up to teach an emerging ‘critical data studies’.” Jonathan Cinnamon, Environment and Planning B

“Rob Kitchin’s book The Data Revolution is one of the first systematic attempts to strip back the hype surrounding our current data deluge and take stock of what is really going on.  … The book acts as a helpful wayfinding device in an unfamiliar terrain, which is still being reshaped, and is admirably written in a language relevant to social scientists, comprehensible to policy makers and accessible even to the less tech savvy among us.  …The Data Revolution’s main success lies in clearing a space – cutting out the conjecture and gloss, the Utopians and the reactionaries pulling in different directions – and locating a common ground from which to build something.”  David Moats, Theory, Culture and Society

“Kitchin’s The Data Revolution is absolutely recommendable and provides a sober account of the interaction between society and big data.  Kitchin avoids the hubris and speculation often found in literature about big data to focus on big data’s logic. [It] would serve as [an] ideal book in introductory graduate courses that deal with data and information in any capacity.” Andrew J Iliadis, Communication Booknotes Quartley

“[The Data Revolution] is an interesting book, and a good primer for those wanting to have an understanding and awareness of the coming issues in the coming world of the Internet of Things, and all that it implies for our lives.” Simon Cocking, Irish Tech News

“This is an exemplary scholarly book: smart, objective, clear, concise, well informed, rich in insights, and thoughtprovoking.  Definitely the best ‘general’ overview of big data I have seen so far.  Expect … to find virtually every key aspect of big data addressed in a
competent, thoroughly documented, and balanced way.” Cristian Suteanu, Geographical Research

“Rob Kitchin’s latest book is an important addition to the emerging field of critical data studies, in that it manages to both make a clear, convincing and reasonably detailed case for why it is necessary to look critically at what data are—and, just as crucially, what they do in the world—and provide stimulating insights and suggestions for further research in this area. … The book does an excellent job of presenting in a clear and balanced manner the opportunities and the challenges that the data revolution poses, and in stressing the need for in-depth empirical studies of specific data assemblages at a given time in a given place it paves the way for the kind of critical work that is sorely needed at this point in time.”  Francesca Menichelli, Surveillance & Society

“One of the key contributions of this book is its thorough analysis of popular and prevalent discourses around big and open data, and subsequent reflections on the limitations of these conceptualizations … Kitchin’s thorough unpacking of data – as a social practice, as an enabler of scholarly research, as a thing in and of itself, etc. – would be a welcome antidote to much of the unproductive hype around big and open data that continues to persist in the popular media …  This book is useful for anyone with an interest in the present and future of scholarly research and the role of new technologies in shaping the discourses and practices of such work, and is almost sure to spur considerable future research into these pressing issues.” Taylor Shelton, Progress in Physical Geography

“[T]his is a well-written book that weaves together the histories and complexities of the data revolution, questioning at every turn the thinking and philosophies behind such actions. And while the main focus of the book is on the emerging field of Big Data, his assessment of small data and other data solutions offers solace to those who are wary of the all-encompassing and sweeping nature of the Big Data rhetoric.” Doug Specht, Media, Culture and Society

Kitchin provides an informative introduction to the changing role of data and an overview of
key trajectories of the big data debate. By referring to a wealth of practical examples and reviewing a broad range of academic work, he explains the contexts, uses, motivations and implications of the ‘data revolution’. As an overview of the debate, the book balances beneficial and empowering uses of data with ethical, political and social concerns. Arne Hintz, Journal of Alternative and Community Media

The purpose of this excellent book is to prove how these data do not exist independently from the ideas, techniques, technologies, people and context that produce, process, manage, analyze and store them.The discussion conducted throughout the book has illustrated how a powerful set of rationalities has been developed to support the adoption of big data technologies and the solutions they allow. For this making of sense to occur, the author suggests philosophical reflections and critical analysis as well as detailed empirical research on the genesis, constitution, functioning and evolution of data assembly. Barbara Martini, Regional Studies

In The Data Revolution, Rob Kitchin aims at demystifying the late twentieth-century data boom that brought radical changes in data production, volume, and infrastructure. The author provides a synthesis of a multi-billion dollar market that raises as many hopes as questions in academic, political, technical, legal, and ethical fields. Marie-Noëlle Carré, Canadian Geographer

Kitchin provides an even-handed discussion of the implications of the data deluge that I can wholeheartedly recommend. Despite being a relatively short book, it is broad in its discussions, drawing on a wide range of literature from different disciplines.The Data Revolution will be of interest to anyone with a passing interest in issues around Big Data and its future, which should include all of those in the information profession.  David Stuart, Online Information Review

Can we discuss the data revolution without touching the data? … Kitchin’s book guides the reader through the complexity of contemporary views on the data revolution and makes us aware of its dangerous sides. Itzhak Benenson, Geography Research Forum

A book to understand things. A book to locate and contextualize the boom of big data, open data and the datification of contemporary life in general. Rob Kitchin is always very educational, with a great capacity to establish categories, formalize concepts and raise the bleakest and controversial points of issues we use fairly light or uncritically. Manu Fernandez, Ciudades a escala humana

The Data Revolution presents itself as a clear, timely and concise clarification guide in a time of ‘big data’ confusion. In the eleven chapters of this book Kitchin draws from a wide variety of big-data-related fields to explain and dissects the big data buzz – its hypes and hopes – what it is and what it is not. It is very well-written and serves as a thorough introduction as well as a vastly rich source of references. … This book is the first to present an overview and a research agenda for big data in a cross-disciplinary manner. … For media and culture scholars, amongst others, The Data Revolution is a seminal work that addresses and explains not only the basic aspects and insides of big data, it also questions it as a trend, hype or regime. Tjerk Timan, International Journal of Media and Cultural Politics

In his book, Rob Kitchin offers a critical analysis of this emerging data landscape, including discussions about the social, political, and ethical consequences of the data revolution. An open, accessible, and great way to better understand data, and how it affects us in everyday life. “13 books every university-bound student should read this summer“, Business Insider

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