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Sarah Evans Professor of English and Media, Culture and Communication at New York University, Lisa Gitelman seeks

to deconstruct the typical notion of data with her edited volume Raw Data is an Oxymoron. It begins with an introduction written by Gitelman framing the intentions of the book with a discussion of how data is typically conceived of, and why that conception is false. Following the prevalent food metaphor that data is raw, Gitelman urges readers to understand why and how data are always already cooked and never entirely raw (2). The way that data is perceived as inherently decontextual is a common myth that Gitelman effectively dispels by the end of the edition. Gitelman justifies the books divisions (four subsections with two essay chapters comprising each section) and delineates the ways they inform each other. The two essays in each section work both together and independently in that they illustrate the sub-theme, though typically through drastically different means while pushing their own agendas. The subsections include: the various origins of data as a concept, how disciplines conceive of their objects and vice versa, prehistories to the contemporary database, and finally data in the present. She prefaces the books chapters, attempting to integrate them into both their subsection and her overarching theme, which she does to a large success. In fact, the books unified argument is more cohesive here than in the actual essays. When reading the essays individually, they require a lot of work on the part of the reader to comprehend how they work into the larger scale argument about datas role. In the end, she proves that data can be conceived of in many ways and should never be thought of as without context. The first essay perfectly sets the tone of the book by offering a new look at the term data itself. Data before the Fact by Daniel Rosenberg offers a description of the early conceptual history of data and an explanation of how the word came to its current meaning. It also

Sarah Evans successfully gives readers their first installment of the books goal to debunk the myth of objective data. He differentiates between the terms data, facts, and evidence to underscore the semantic function of data [as] specifically rhetorical (18). Rosenberg then completes a performative analysis in which he describes his own experience of tracking the word data through history using the Google Ngram viewer. He describes how the analytic tools brought up inconsistent results, forcing him to comb through them and discard things that did not fit his intended data set. By the end of the chapter he admits: My own data may once have been raw, but by the time I began serious interpretation, I had cooked it quite well (30). Procrustean Marxism and Subjective Rigor: Early Modern Arithmetic and Its Readers by Travis D. Williams, a chapter as rigorous and multi-faceted as its name, sharply contrasts to the previous essay in that its primary point does not seem to directly connect to the theme of data. Instead, it tangentially evaluates the problems of making assumptions about data and trusting numbers as objective, timeless concepts. Williams assesses English arithmetic problems from the 1500s and compares them to the English math problems of today. He finds that current scholars reading past math with our conventions will not achieve the right answers. Proposing a thought experiment wherein four areas, our reading [of math] and their reading [of math], our vigor and their vigor, are considered and compared, Williams explores the dangers of essentializing concepts and data across time (42). Williams convincingly makes the case that math is not an absolute truth through effectively exposing it as yet another function of Althussers ideological state apparatuses. To begin the section that develops how the rhetorical power of data is enhanced by its aggregative qualities, Kevin R. Brine and Mary Poovey recount the influences of American economist Irving Fisher in From Measuring Desire to Quantifying Expectations: A Late

Sarah Evans Nineteenth-Century Effort to Marry Economic Theory and Data. The chapter opens with an explanation of how data can be conceived of through different constructs, for example quantitative vs. relational. Brine and Poovey highlight the often ignored historical and practical processes that work within mathematical formulas, here specifically related to economic theories. The chapter also further delves into the process of commensuration using Fishers data as an example. This data-scrubbing involved removing incorrect or inconvenient elements from the available data, supplying missing information, and formatting it so that it fit with other data (70). So, even current American economists employment of data to get the mathematic formulas that they utilize now seems very skewed indeed, underscoring the intense contextualization of data that we often forget. Matthew Stanley considers which data is the right data in Where is that Moon, anyway? The Problem of Interpreting Historical Solar Eclipse Observations. Stanley accounts for what type of data is practical, logical, or allowed to be used to determine the secular acceleration of the moon, a quantity that would modify equations of the moons motion to properly discern when all eclipses, past and present did/will occur. Though somewhat technical at the outset, the article turns to the debate through time describing astronomers various acceptances and rejections of different data sources and methods of conduct. Illustrated through the search for the moons secular acceleration, this article not only contributes that, astronomical data could not be produced solely by astronomical methods but that professionals, and even people in general have very strong beliefs about what counts as data and what should not (84). The fourth section of the book, which describes some precursors to the contemporary internet database, begins with my favorite essay of the collection: facts and FACTS:

Sarah Evans Abolitionists Database Innovations by Ellen Gruber Garvey. This fascinating chapter describes how the Grimke sisters remediated slave classifieds to write American Slavery as it is: Testimony of a Thousand Witnesses. Gruber Garvey sustains: Interpreted correctly, the ads yielded information on a horrifying spectrum of abuse, both of enslaved peoples bodies and their spirits (93). The Grimke sisters methods demonstrate how data must be collected and organized in a cohesive way, in their case even from a wildly unconventional source, to be useful and have persuasive power. This chapter may be helpful to media scholars interested in remediation before ubiquitous digital media or those who seek to understand more intimately how context and data relate. The next chapter, Paper as Passion: Niklas Luhmann and his Card Index by Markus Krajewski offers a very unconventional and complex method of organizing bits of data into a database. Citing Hegels missing slip-box, the article seeks to remind modern readers that though we are alienated from the databases of today, there were/are perfectly useful personal databases that theoretically anyone can create, with enough time, patience, and effort. The article describes and theorizes about the slip box as a self-referential database that is only useful to its creator. Though this stood out as the most eccentric chapter that seemingly had the least to do with the books overarching argument, the primary takeaway is seemingly that other complex and self-referential database systems existed long before todays hyperlinking. Though it was a stretch to conceptually connect to the larger picture, the chapter was interesting nonetheless. The first of the books last two chapters covers something of a contemporary hot topic: surveillance. However, Dataveillence and Countervailance by Rita Raley goes against the typical conception of online surveillance in terms of Foucaults panopticon and argues that we are not in fact being surveyed because we are not being seen as whole entities, rather only in

Sarah Evans pieces of data. Though Raley does not view this form of dataveillance as any less dangerous, she extends some valuable points such as the idea that data appreciates: Raw data is the material for informational patterns still to come, its value unknown or uncertain until it is converted into the currency of information (123). To finish off her article, Raley provides some examples of counterveillence, though some, such as using the Google browser add-on Eyebrowse to survey oneself, seem counterintuitive. As the most overtly rhetorical of the books chapters, Raleys contributions were more familiar than those of the other authors and thus simultaneously welcome and jarring. The final essay, Data Bite Man: The Work of Sustaining a Long-Term Study by David Ribes and Steven J. Jackson represents the culmination of knowledge proffered throughout the book. Though the material presented in this chapter was less novel than that of the previous essays, the ultimate takeaway is imperative. Ribes and Jackson ferment the idea that data need humans to exist through the use of several mini case studies about corn, fruit flies, and the cooling systems in data storage units and an extended case study about Maryland streams. Conversely, the authors point out that because we have domesticated data we also need it. Data needs people to collect, aggregate, and make meaning of it, but so many of our economic, corporate, and scientific activities depend on that data that our society would seemingly be damaged without it. Overall, though the book is difficult to fit into a genre, its well-executed organization and performative strategy succeeds in convincing readers that data is not quite what we once thought it was.