Indiana Jones and The Anomalies of Data

One of an occasional series [1] highlighting the genius of Randall Munroe. Randall is a prominent member of the international data community and apparently also writes some sort of web-comic as a side line [2].

I didn't even realize you could HAVE a data set made up entirely of outliers.
Copyright xkcd.com

Data and Indiana Jones, these are a few of my favourite things… [3] Indeed I must confess to having used a variant of the image below in each of my seminar deck and – on this site back in 2009 – a previous article, A more appropriate metaphor for Business Intelligence projects.

Raiders of the Lost Ark II would have been a much better title than Temple of Doom IMO

In both cases I was highlighting that data-centric work is sometimes more like archaeology than the frequently employed metaphor of construction. To paraphrase myself, you never know what you will find until you start digging. The image suggested the unfortunate results of not making this distinction when approaching data projects.

So, perhaps I am arguing for less Data Architects and more Data Archaeologists; the whip and fedora are optional of course!
 


 Notes

 
[1]
 
Well not that occasional as, to date, the list extends to:

  1. Patterns patterns everywhere – The Sequel
  2. An Inconvenient Truth
  3. Analogies, the whole article is effectively an homage to xkcd.com
  4. A single version of the truth?
  5. Especially for all Business Analytics professionals out there
  6. New Adventures in Wi-Fi – Track 1: Blogging
  7. Business logic [My adaptation]
  8. New Adventures in Wi-Fi – Track 2: Twitter
  9. Using historical data to justify BI investments – Part III
 
[2]
 
xkcd.com if you must ask.
 
[3]
 
Though in this case, my enjoyment would have been further enhanced by the use of “artefacts” instead.

 

 

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