Databite No. 43: Sara M. Watson


Sara M. Watson on embodied metaphors for talking about data: How we think about data — and more importantly what we do with it — will depend on the value systems that our conceptual metaphors capture and reify. Much of the rhetoric surrounding data draws on metaphors that privilege an industrial perspective: “data is the new oil,” “we’re mining the data for insights.” Studying the early adopters of self-tracking technology, Sara M. Watson has identified a set of emerging data metaphors starting from a personal, rather than industrial perspective. In this Databite, Watson will explore how we might reframe metaphors for data in a more personal and embodied context to give us a better way to understand our personal relationships and interests in our personal data and its uses. Databites are Data & Society’s weekly lunch conversations focused on unresolved questions and timely topics of interest to our community. To request an invitation, please email events at data society dot net. Intro and outro music tracks by Podington Bear: The Sound of Picture Production Library (

Technology Critic & Writer

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Sara M. Watson is a writer and technology critic. She is an affiliate with the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. Sara writes and speaks about emerging issues in the intersection of technology, culture, and society. Her writing appears in The Atlantic, Wired, The Washington Post, Slate, Motherboard, and other publications. She presents at technology conferences around the globe, including SXSW and O’Reilly Strata. Sara began her career as an enterprise technology analyst at The Research Board (Gartner, Inc.), exploring the implications of technological trends—like cloud computing, collaboration software, and big data—for Fortune 500 CIOs. She was recently a research fellow at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University. She holds an MSc in the Social Science of the Internet with distinction from the Oxford Internet Institute, where her award-winning thesis examined the personal data practices of the Quantified Self community. She graduated from Harvard College magna cum laude with a joint degree in English and American literature and film studies. Her interdisciplinary work continues to draw from media studies, science and technology studies, anthropology, and literature. Sara is based in Singapore and tweets @smwat.