What is Data?
Data is any kind of observation, measurement, facts, calculation, or statistic that a person would use to make informed decisions.
So how about this weather?
Every morning, I check the actual current temperature and the predicted highs and lows for the day to determine how to dress – t-shirt? sweater? shorts/pants? Layers? (This is South Dakota after all – I may need shorts and a parka – IDK).
The data in this example is the temperature values, and my brain (hopefully) processes that information based on previous experience, to make my decision on how to dress for the day.
Old School Sciencing
Here’s another example of data using the same measurement – temperature. My dad wrote the morning temperature on the calendar every single day for years.
When my parents passed and we cleaned their house, we found years and years of calendars, and on nearly each day, my dad’s handwritten observation was present. This added up to decades worth of data, but how can it be made useful in case someone wanted to look at all of the temperature values to look at trends, highs/lows, etc?
The First Digital Revolution
The temperature data my dad created was in what we would call “analog” form. It still has value, but to really use those numbers, I would have to somehow standardize and put it into a form that can be easily manipulated. I can read each date and type all the data into a spreadsheet or database – I will have recreated my dad’s analog temperature readings into a digital form – a string of ones and zeros (more later). There is beauty in the analog calendars, but digitizing makes it easier to use if I have questions. Alas, my dad missed it because he didn’t make it past the Industrial Age, but he would have found it amazing what we could do now and learn from his daily notation.
This Digital Revolution of converting data from analog to digital made the manipulation, analysis, transmission, and storage of data much faster and efficient. This kicked off the Information Age.
The Future is Digital – Welcome