What Data Can't Do

I think this is a great article to keep in one’s back pocket when deeply involved in data. Gotta keep it real, so to speak: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/19/opinion/brooks-what-data-cant-do.html?_r=1&

1 Like

This article has a focus on human behavior (emotions, values, what they like, etc) as opposed to data related to human cause/effect health/energy issues.

And, sure, when talking about what sort of reality our minds are “programmed” with, it’s like looking for correlations to find a random, moving target; what’s the point?

I don’t spend time thinking about such things. I like to spend my time building a world with a focus on collecting data, graphing it, and correlating it towards the betterment of the human experience and health, etc. It has a focus on the body, the organs, the tissues, the cells, the molecules and atoms… not what sort of things our mind is “programmed” with which can be anything - just take a look at the past 6,000 years: The human mind can be programmed with anything.

To me, the point of the article is simply a reminder that all data is encoded with human values. Any data set ever collected is the result of one or more humans deciding that one thing in particular needed to be observed over another.

The article also ends with the notion that data is simply a tool. In order to maximize the value we get from our data, we not only have to know how to use it, but also be able to step back and determine whether or not it is the right tool for the job.