Gertraud Koch & Katharina Kinder-Kurlanda: Source Criticism of Data Platform Logics on the Internet. [Abstract]

Source criticism is an epistemological practice in social and cultural studies that is crucial for specifying the range and scope of the findings, or in other words their validity and reliability. In the context of big data, source criticism is not yet established in the fashion as it is known in other areas of social and cultural research. Currently emerging discussions in historical research emphasize the relevance of source criticism of digital objects or data. In the context of these discussions, this contribution suggests exploring the potentials of source criticism for platform logics. We focus on big data sourced from the internet. Nevertheless our results aim to be transferrable to other sources of big data. The inclusion of source criticism into big data analysis may in turn foster the integration of data-driven analyses into social and cultural studies research approaches. For an integration of source criticism, the paper proposes source critical analyses of information systems, in particular internet platforms, in big data analysis with regard to a) types of big data platforms, b) researchers as data makers, and c) mixed realities of platform usage practices. In analogy to source repertoires (Quellentypen) it suggests to classify internet platforms as providers of particular types of big data sources depending on their infrastructural materiality and ontologies for tracing the key issues of (external) source criticism: provenance, authenticity, and integrity.

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