A change in environmental and social mindsets? Global flows, oil and data

Diogo Pereira Henriques

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


For over a decade both in research and industry in distinct scientific fields, several scholars have tried to establish an analogy between data and oil. And it is certainly true that the most economically valuable companies nowadays include corporations related to data extraction, while ten years ago the most economically valuable companies included corporations related to fossil fuel extraction. Nonetheless, when comparing these two major global flows (i.e. oil and data) from the perspectives of humanities and social sciences nowadays, they may be seen as different. Moreover, in order to find ways to overcome the spaces and imaginaries of oil (Hein, forthcoming), perhaps we should consider relating oil and data as a false analogy. Can data be seen as the new oil, within a future beyond fossil fuels? Can the availability and flow of open data for international research networks allow a real change in environmental and social mindsets? In this presentation, we reflect on the much needed change in environmental and social mindsets from corporations, governments and universities at a global scale, when faced with unprecedented international consensus on the need to transition from fossil fuels within the next few decades heralded by the 2016 Paris Climate Agreement. We argue that novel solutions may only arise through new ways of thinking, open data sets, international collaborations and research networks, and the development of a new digital humanism for the 21st century.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 30 Aug 2018
EventPetrocultures 2018: Transitions: An International, Multi-Disciplinary Conference on Oil Cultures and Energy Humanities - University of Glasgow, Glasgow, United Kingdom
Duration: 29 Aug 20181 Sept 2018


ConferencePetrocultures 2018: Transitions
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


Dive into the research topics of 'A change in environmental and social mindsets? Global flows, oil and data'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this