Wherever large amounts of data are collected, there are often empty spaces where no data live. Mimi Onuoha’s ongoing research project identifies these “missing datasets” – categories of information that do not exist, but perhaps should. In these blank spots, sometimes we can find hints of what society or culture deems important or unimportant, revealing our hidden social biases and indifferences.
This second version of The Library of Missing Datasets focuses on blackness. As Onuoha says, “Black folks are both over-collected and under-represented in American datasets, featuring strongly as objects of collection but rarely as subjects with agency over collection, ownership, and power.” Onuoha’s project asks us to consider the logic and parameters of information collection, who defines what’s included (or not), and more importantly, why.