In this paper, Dr Walford will explore the notion of the digital real: the complex relationship between the digital and the real. Drawing on fieldwork conducted with scientific researchers and technicians in the Brazilian Amazon who are processing, curating, and disseminating vast amounts of observational data on carbon flux, the paper focuses on the mundane and quotidian practice of “cleaning the data”, as her interlocutors called it. By following the minutiae of this practice, Dr Walford will demonstrate how self-referentiality and what she calls 'compaction' are inherent to the successful forging of data realities, and data socialities. She will conclude by trying to socialise this data through another relational medium, drawing a speculative comparison with a very different field site, one in which cultural realities are at stake.
Dr. Antonia Walford is a researcher at UCL's Centre for Digital Antrhopology and works on questions of data and ontology.