Accustomed though we are to films, files, moving-image apparatus, and books, media scholars often still find the concept of “data” jarring. As evidenced by any number of scenes of what might be called data montage—think of the reference library sleuthing in Spotlight (2015) or the now-iconic scrolling green type in The Matrix (1999)—we struggle to picture data, let alone begin to analyze it as a media object. Even in information studies and data science, fields in which data is a primary object of study, specific definitions of the term are contested and often unsatisfying. Does information become data when it is converted from undifferentiated content to structured form? When it is...

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