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The Database ‘Revolution’

Tijdschrift voor Mediageschiedenis. 2018;21(2):7 DOI 10.18146/2213-7653.2018.364


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Journal Title: Tijdschrift voor Mediageschiedenis

ISSN: 2213-7653 (Online)

Publisher: Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision

LCC Subject Category: Technology: Electrical engineering. Electronics. Nuclear engineering: Telecommunication | Language and Literature: Philology. Linguistics: Communication. Mass media

Country of publisher: Netherlands

Language of fulltext: Dutch, English

Full-text formats available: PDF, HTML



Kerssens, Niels


Editorial review

Editorial Board

Instructions for authors

Time From Submission to Publication: 20 weeks


Abstract | Full Text

In this article, I counter persistent claims of big data revolutionising managerial decision making, by tracing the technological and cultural origins of data-based management in the United States back to the 1970s and 1980s using historical source materials from the trade magazine Datamation. I argue that innovations in database technology within this period – database management systems and the relational database model – shaped and reinforced a data-based mindset. This mindset, I demonstrate, is manifested in four interlinked concepts of data: data as asset, data as raw, data as reality, and data as relatable. These concepts, I argue, provide a basis for current associations of big data with ideological values of objectivity and truthfulness. The article contributes to a growing body of work in media and communication studies that deconstructs the ideological discourses facilitating big data’s unquestioned integration in the business world.