This article proposes a consideration of today’s discourses on ‘big data’ from a media archaeological point of view, confronting such discourses with those surrounding projects for large- scale image archives in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Collections of photographs, stereographs and films were thought of as trustworthy and unbiased documents, that allowed for the production of new forms of knowledge. The expectations as to the impact of such new media that circulated at the time are not unlike those formulated today with respect to ‘big data’. It is only by scrutinizing those discourses, and specifically the role attributed to media technologies, that we can understand the processes that govern the production of each medium’s bias.

media archaeology, big data, image archives, data collections, trust
Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision
dx.doi.org/10.18146/2213-7653.2018.366
Tijdschrift voor Mediageschiedenis
Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0)
TMG Journal for Media History; Vol 21, No 2 (2018): Big Data Histories; 52-66

Kessler, Frank, & Schäfer, Mirko Tobias. (2018). Trust in Techno-images: Early Media Collections as Precursors of Big Data. Tijdschrift voor Mediageschiedenis, 21(2), 52–66. doi:10.18146/2213-7653.2018.366