Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Philosophy of Data

In this article titled, "The Philosophy of Data", auther David Brooks asks:
What kinds of events are predictable using statistical analysis and what sorts of events are not?  
Now, I know an editor likely created the title, but his article limits the value of data to insights derived from statistical analysis  - as if that is the only means to extract information from (big) data.

I think this is the wrong question to ask.  This may be a bit optimistic, but my belief is that data analyses can answer most any question.  The problem (and opportunity) lies in ensuring the data contains the necessary information to answer the question - a problem we have only begun to explore.

In the same article:
...we tend to get carried away in our desire to reduce everything to the quantifiable.
Data is not just about quantification; it's about information.  We are only at the beginning of collecting, structuring, and even analyzing data.  My belief is that we will see great advances in this processing, which will in turn unlock new possibilities for data-driven insights.  Such innovation will enable analyses and insights never before possible.  Data will inform questions we don't even yet know to ask.

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