‘Every act of visualisation of digital data remains uncertain in its relationship to the original; one could even say that every such performance itself becomes an original. [...] every digital copy has its own here and now – an aura of originality – that a mechanical copy does not have.' Boris Groys, 'In the Flow' and 'Monday Begins On Saturday'
Plural of datum. This means 'something given'. It is not used very much. There is always too much of it, and so it becomes data.
Data is taken from us all the time and as such used all too much.
Data is used by persons unknown.
Data saturates our times; data of the past is reproduced, reconstructed, redefined, repeatedly.
(I am ignoring, below, the context in which you ask that we define data).
Data is a word that is conveniently depoliticised, and strangely defined as that-which-is-given—a definition that tacitly queries ideas of 'data capture'. I prefer ideas of capta. Capta, (whose etympology, from 'taken', like that of 'data' is contrary to its use), is the data of conscious experience, and will include in its findings those contained in empathy and emotion. Capta challenges ideas of empiricism, that we can objectively investigate, record the findings, and then assert dominant idealogical facts and systems constructed on 'objective data'. Capta is counter to a capitalist construction of knowledge.