A Day in the Life of Metadata
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“A Day in the Life of Metadata” is a multi-disciplinary collaboration between a social scientist at the Surveillance Studies Centre and computer engineers at the Centre for Advanced Computing (both of Queen’s University) that aims to make the invisible and illegible data flows used by Big Data consumer marketing and security profiling purposes see-able and read-able to social scientists. The project traces the life cycle of a small set of geolocation metadata – from its origin in an Android device’s GNSS/GPS sensor, through the smartphone’s operating system stack, to its resting place in a cloud-based server. The project’s goal is to publish a heuristic research guide, along with a specialized data visualization toolkit (currently in the Beta stage of development) that enables other social scientists to undertake their own investigations of the pathways and processes behind (meta)data collection and treatment within surveillance and privacy systems.