Mundane data: The routines, contingencies and accomplishments of digital living

Sarah Pink, Shanti Sumartojo, Deborah Lupton, Christine Heyes LaBond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

136 Citations (Scopus)


This article develops and mobilises the concept of ‘mundane data’ as an analytical entry point for understanding Big Data. We call for in-depth investigation of the human experiences, routines, improvisations and accomplishments which implicate digital data in the flow of the everyday. We demonstrate the value of this approach through a discussion of our ethnographic research with self-tracking cycling commuters. We argue that such investigations are crucial in informing our understandings of how digital data become meaningful in mundane contexts of everyday life for two reasons: first because there is a gap in our understanding of the contingencies and specificities through which big digital data sets are produced, and second because designers and policy makers often seek to make interventions for change in everyday contexts through the presentation of mundane data to consumers but with little understanding of how people produce, experience and engage with these data.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalBig Data & Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Digital living
  • ethnography
  • improvisation
  • mundane data
  • routine
  • self-tracking

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