What is Data?

(based on definitions by Dan Appleton 1983)

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  • Each FACT combines with one or more MEANINGS.
  • Each specific FACT and MEANING combination is referred to as a DATUM. 
  • An INFORMATION is one or more DATA that are returned in response to a specific REQUEST.
  • INFORMATION REUSE is enabled when one FACT is combined with more than one MEANING.
  • INTELLIGENCE is INFORMATION associated with its STRATEGIC USES.
  • DATA/INFORMATION must formally arranged into an ARCHITECTURE.
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The Hitchhikers Guide to the Universe

has a subplot that revolves around the fact that the meaning of life is 42. Let’s start at the most granular level–data is any combination of a fact and a meaning. For years we have asked groups: what does the number 42 mean? The answer is usually shouted back as: it's the meaning of life! A bit of explanation to the group and now we all share an understanding that 42 (fact) can be paired with a (meaning) “it (42) is the meaning of life.” That combination of fact and meaning constitutes a bit of data. 

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80% of data is ROT

ROT = Redundant
            Obsolete
            Trivial

The only argument I ever get is that

"Our data is closer to 90% ROT"

With 5 to 10 times as much chafe as wheat, organizations can benefit tremendously by taking a data centric approach to organizational improvement. Turns out to be all about demonstrating what happens in the organization when better data practices yield improvements.

Quotes on this page are from the forthcomming text (Danger) Feeding the Data Matrix!  Todd and I are aiming for a Fall 2020 release

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Data is not the new Oil

Applying these same concepts to data makes little sense. The relative cost of acquiring data is most expensive the first time one uses it. Costs diminish with each subsequent reuse. Therefore, organizations are encouraged and financially rewarded to reuse data. (While Stylumia were not the first to coin this phrase, I did grab their very nice picture.)

Oil’s value is based on scarcity. Data does not work this way, and applying these same concepts to data makes little sense in the information economy (see Barlow 1994 and the Atlantic's excellent roundtable on the subject).

The relative cost of acquiring data is most expensive the first time one uses it. Costs diminish with each subsequent reuse. Data increases in value the more it is reused. Therefore, organizations are encouraged and financially rewarded to reuse data. 

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Some just do not understand data! I took this picture of a door at a resturant one day - it just doesn't seem to be the right combination?

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