Thing 1: What is/are data?

The first task (or “Thing 1”)  for our Holistic Librarian Afzal was to investigate what is/what are data.

His initial reply was:

To my mind, these are raw bits or bricks that are found deliberately or serendipitously or both – then collated in order to be constructed into information that is then used to advance human civilisation.

He then investigated further and his second answer to the question was this:

Data-nt cordiale: the End of Data

‘End’ meaning ‘Goal’, of course.

Data – the  ‘thing given’ – yet often the facts are never a given thing.. they are wrestled via a plethora of sources and methods. Given  the march commercialisation and globalisation, data is -like it or not – commodified, to use a marxist term. This entails knowing and valuing it and owning it.

An excellent and lucid definition of what  Research Data is/are all about – or should be about is given by the Australian National Data Service:

Research data means data in the form of facts, observations, images, computer program results, recordings, measurements or experiences on which an argument, theory, test or hypothesis, or another research output is based. Data may be numerical, descriptive, visual or tactile. It may be raw, cleaned or processed, and may be held in any format or media.

And the wherefore of this/these data:

Data that are: to Structured Collections that are:
Unmanaged        —> Managed
Disconnected      —> Connected
Invisible              —> Findable
Single-use          —> Reusable

Once Data becomes more communal – I think the word Data will take on much more of a human nuance than it does now. Data to the people!

Posted under Holistic Librarian

This post was written by Afzal Hasan on April 27, 2012

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