Imagine if your whole life you’ve looked through one eye, only seeing through one eye and suddenly, scientists can give you the ability to open up a second eye. So what you would see is not just more data but it’s a whole different way of seeing.
Said photojournalist Rick Smolan today, telling the audience at a Human Face of Big Data event the same thing he told his son when, at 2am, the little boy climbed out of bed, snuck into the kitchen and asked him why he stayed up late everynight on the phone talking about “big data.” Smolan continued:
My son, who again wanted to stay up as late as he could before I sent him back to bed, said: could scientists and computers, like, let us open up a third eye and a fourth and a fifth? And I said yes.
See the group’s phone app, its upcoming book and more here.
The heart of data science is designing instruments to turn signals from the real world into actionable information. Fighting the data providers to give you those signals in a convenient form is a losing battle, so the key to success is getting comfortable with messy requirements and chaotic inputs. As an engineer, this can feel like a deal with the devil, as you have to accept error and uncertainty in your results. But the alternative is no results at all.