Data: 4 letter word

Saw this meme last night:

“When people ask me ‘what do I do?’ I say ‘Whatever it takes.'”

This day and age, data is ubiquitous, it’s everywhere and sloppy and disorganized and overwhelming. We make so much data without even knowing it. Our phones, cameras, cars, etc all collect and store GPS data, we create piles and piles of search queries daily. We are living in a digital Information Age and the promises of “Big data” abound. Very smart computer programmers are building algorithms to sort and sift through the data to possibly bring some meaning out of the mess. Whereas we might look at all the various data we produce and see nothing but a string of numbers, a machine learning or AI algorithm may see a connection that every weekend you purchase a case of beer, every Sunday your Fitbit step counter shows next to nothing in terms of steps, and every Monday your scale shows weight gain. This may seem like intuitive connections, binging on the weekends…what’s the big deal? Well, given the ease and proliferation of data our assumptions can be measured and tested. Maybe some unnoticed trends emerge like after your binges your workouts actually show increased strength or your hormone levels show a drop in cortisol.

Recent hacks have shown that even our mobile devices can be used in denial of service attacks. We cannot bury our heads in the sand about our data. It’s time to become literate and cognizant of our data footprint. To be fair data is anything but a 4 letter word. Opportunities abound in the arena, but we must learn to learn.