How Big Data Became So Big
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Suddenly, a Big Data revolution seems to be on its way. In both technological and popular discourses, Big Data is often depicted as a new technological development that will undoubtedly bring new and profound insights, answers and knowledge. However, the promises of this rather vague term are highly debatable and have yet to be proven. In this thesis I will therefore inquire how it can be explained that Big Data has given rise to very high expectations and a lot of optimism in a rather short period of time. By building on the work of various media historians, this thesis departs from the proposition that this popular term currently relates to certain age-old and transhistorical ideas, desires and dreams about technology that have been part of our collective and subconscious memory long before the term ‘Big Data’ was even coined. By investigating both the current optimistic discourses of Big Data, as well as historical discourses that surrounded past media manifestations, it will be argued that Big Data became so big because its discursive construction confronts us with our age-old thoughts, dreams and expectations about technology, and thus constantly embeds Big Data in a discursive mould we already know.