Physicalizations of Big Data in Ethnographic Context

Jacob Buur*, Sara Said Mosleh, Christina Fyhn Nielsen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articleResearchpeer-review

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With the Big Data hype, making digital data accessible and relatable for non-data experts is becoming an increasing challenge. In this paper we suggest Data Physicalization as a novel approach to facilitate conversations with collaborators about the meaning of data. While this challenge has been approached with data visualizations before, we propose that Data Physicalizations can bring stronger engagement and even more depth to the data than visualizations can offer. Based on four design examples, we investigate how data, when made physical, can be used to instigate valuable reflections between field researchers and non-data experts, and can serve as a platform for design. In all cases we worked with Data Physicalization to enhance our own understanding of the field, to engage collaborators in sense-making, and to move towards design proposals. In the concluding section we discuss the intricate process of developing such Data Physicalizations
and suggest traits that make them successful.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEthnographic Praxis in Industry Conference. Conference Proceedings
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)86-103
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018
EventEthnographic Praxis in Industry Conference - Hawaii, Honolulu, United States
Duration: 10. Oct 201812. Oct 2018


ConferenceEthnographic Praxis in Industry Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address


  • Data Physicalization
  • Big Data


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