Data is Free – Insight, Logic and Deduction is Not

Occasionally, a reader may comment to the mariner that he must know a lot to be able to post so frequently and about so many different subjects. That is a nice compliment but the truth is the Internet is only a click away; the Internet has not failed mariner in providing voluminous detail about even the most arcane and obscure subject. The reader’s compliment should go to the Internet.

A common term is that we live in the information age. This is true. As Ed McMahon used to say, “The [Internet] has everything a person would ever want to know….” If all human data were on paper, as it used to be, we would be living between mountainous hills of paper that would put an old fashioned dump to shame. The amount of electronic information collected today has outpaced the places to store it. Here is a quote from Economist Magazine:

“Hal Varian, Google’s chief economist, predicts that the job of statistician will become the “sexiest” around. Data, he explains, are widely available; what is scarce is the ability to extract wisdom from them.” (Note that mariner did not know this quote until he looked for related information on the Internet. Incidentally, the whole article will explain more about information than mariner chooses to cover in this post – thanks to Economist Magazine online – a magazine mariner recommends for every household coffee table. See:

http://www.economist.com/node/15557443 ).

Not too long ago, the best search engine was a sharp reference librarian at the local library. Sometimes, customers had to wait a week or more if the information were complex or obfuscated or had to be retrieved by inter-library loan. The function of a reference librarian still is needed but more at assisting with the relationship between subjects and sorting and the data that may link the subjects together. When a strategy has been mapped, everyone goes over to the Supreme Master and God of Reference – the computer and the Internet.

Traditionally, one would marvel at memory gurus, people with photographic memories and lots of education. Now, one can still marvel – would we all be blessed with photographic memory – but the Internet is a classic example of cybernetic symbiosis. Anyone can collect large amounts of data in a dozen different ways without having to memorize the data; the Internet memorizes data for us. What is difficult is the ability to know what specific data one needs and how that data can be used to achieve the goal; further, how does one draw meaning from raw data?

Just having a ton of data in a database does not make one knowledgeable or more functional. Even if one could memorize the entire table of data, it would be of no use unless one can process the data properly. The simplified steps for leveraging our symbiotic relationship are:

  1. Why do you need data? This step assures that you have a specific need that requires data. This step sharpens focus; identifies the topic, subject, or problem that will be resolved.
  2. What don’t you know that would be known if you had specific data? This step clarifies data element requirements.
  3. At the end, what objective will be resolved? This step uses answers to the first 2 steps and often is the source of the query posted with your search engine.

In the information age, there is plenty of data. What does it imply? Which data is important to provide the values for many different types of decisions? How does one invent ancillary data to augment the data table? We may be able to generate enough data to match the number of grains of sand on the planet but if we don’t know the definition of ‘beach,’ all the sand in the world is useless.

Responding again to the compliment at the beginning, mariner knows little about where data comes from; what mariner contributes is the question and subsequent reasoning. Once having the data to support comparative reasoning, the mariner will offer the reader his reasoning of the objective.

REFERENCE SECTION

Religion – While scanning the news of the day, mariner came across some interesting issues. An article in the Denver Post covered a labor dispute between Muslims and Cargill. The Muslims walked off the job and were subsequently fired because eleven wanted to pray together. What the mariner found interesting is that this situation is quite similar to that of Kim Davis, the county clerk who went to jail rather than approve homosexual marriage licenses. In both cases, workers chose religious principles over economic opportunity. See:

http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_29330180/cargill-tried-resolve-issues-before-firing-colorado-muslim

Other religious news is a poll taken by the Christian Science Monitor on the issue of freedom of religion (protected by the First Amendment). The poll says 82% of Americans believe it is important for Christianity to practice freely but only 61% say the same is true for Islam – an oxymoron it seems to mariner. See:

http://www.csmonitor.com/

Ancient Mariner

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