The Art of Writing with Data is a series of literary and speculative design-based investigations into telling stories through interweaving and recombining social media data. It is a collaboration between Andrew Burrell and Chris Rodley (University of Sydney).
At the centre of these investigations lies the notion that within the unprecedented intrusion of private thoughts into the public sphere via social media, the smallest details of our emotional lives are being appropriated and aggregated by remorseless, corporate-controlled data streams that come to mirror our hopes, fears and personalities.
The project’s outputs speculate upon what sort of thing may emerge from the amalgam of these voices—constituted from the thoughts and emotions shared every day online. Importantly, these works comment upon and critique emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence, machine learning and big data from a speculative standpoint, offering an alternative to the profit-driven uses preferred by the dominant voices of the technology industry.
Further reflections on the limits and possibilities of social data were explored in the co-authored book chapter entitled ‘On the Art of Writing with Data’, published in The Future of Writing (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014). This work further contextualised these investigations in a wider field of data-driven literature that reconfigures textual and literary data to produce new emergent voices.