The story in the data

It is not enough to simply suply people with gigabytes of data, though. Not everyone is a statistician or computer scientist, and not everyone wants to sift through large data sets. This is a challenge that we face frequently with personal data collection.

While the types of data collection and data returned might have changed over the years, individuals’ needs have not. That is to say that individuals who collect data about themselves and their surroundings still do so to gain a better understanding of the information that lies within the flowing data. Most of the time we are not after the numbers themselves; we are interested in what the numbers mean. It is a subtle difference but an important one. This need calls for systems that can handle personal data streams, process them efficiently and accurately, and dispense information ton nonprofessionals in a way that is understandable and useful. We want something that is more than a spreadsheet of numbers. We want the story in the data.

YAU, Nathan. Seeing Your Life in Data. In: SEGARAN, Toby; HAMMERBACHER, Jeff (org.) Beautiful Data. Sebastopol, CA.: O’Reilly Media Inc., 2009.

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