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“Indeed, data are so aggregative that English usage increasingly makes many into one. The word data has become what is called a mass noun, so it can take a singular verb. Sentences that include the phrase “data is…” are now roughly four times as common (on the web, at least, and according to Google) as those including “data are…” despite countless grammarians out there who will insist that data is plural.”

This passage in the introduction of “Raw Data” Is an Oxymoron resonated with me, as I remember quite clearly my mother telling me that the word data is plural and must always be treated as such (she is undoubtedly one of the grammarians Gitelman is referring to).  Our growing tendency to think of data as an aggregation, as a single entity rather than a collection of unique points, is representative of the loss of individuality that has come with the rise of Big Data. To massive information age entities such as Facebook or Google or Amazon, it doesn’t really matter what any individual user wants; the opinions and desires of the masses, of the collective body of users, are far more important to these companies than the problems or wishes of a single person. The voice of the individual is drowned out by the roar of the crowd. Users is saying it wants Netflix to include the original Star Wars on its instant streaming service.