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Data Journalism Expand / Collapse
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Posted Tuesday, February 5, 2013 10:38 PM


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Comments posted to this topic are about the item Data Journalism






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Post #1416243
Posted Wednesday, February 6, 2013 9:49 AM
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Pardon the ramble here please.

In 1996 I wrote a piece of code for some very complex searching against bibliographic data in believe it or not PL/1. It was something that I wrote understanding I thought what it would do. There were an unlimited combination of search element types with codes and variables that each had to be evaluated in a particular way. And it was all table driven. The code was actually fun to write and appeared to be useful for basic searching.

After beta testing I released the module to the quality team for further testing. After a few hours of them spinning this thing and seeing how it worked I got a call to some and see what I had done for them.

The advanced tester fired up the prototyped system and started looking at data telling me what was going on from one page to another and how they were getting to data that once was not possible due to limitations in the original design of the components. However, I stood there wondering when they were going to get to the code I had turned over to them because the searching they were doing looked so foreign to me that I had no idea that they were really using my code.

When told that the searching engine they were using was the one I had just written and turned over to them I was stunned. How could I have written this piece of code that did all this really cool stuff and never really had a clue how advanced a search engine it was and what it could do in the hands of a master?

Application? Those who gather, grow, and guard data often understand one or more facets of that data. But they see the data as they understand the data. If you put that data in the hands of another who has no binders, does not care about your business rules, who will fold spindle and modify it into an alternative data form to see what they can see, something significant happens. More information emerges.

It has been said that every picture tells a story. Well every picture can tell many stories depending on the perspective of the viewer/teller. Our data is also a picture of sorts, and it can and should tell many stories.

Have a great day!


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Post #1416609
Posted Wednesday, February 6, 2013 10:00 AM


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Miles Neale (2/6/2013)

It has been said that every picture tells a story. Well every picture can tell many stories depending on the perspective of the viewer/teller. Our data is also a picture of sorts, and it can and should tell many stories.

Have a great day!


Interesting story, and food for thought. We may not see the application of what we do, but by the same token I think users sometimes don't understand the data we see.

good to keep both things in perspective.







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Post #1416619
Posted Wednesday, February 6, 2013 11:24 AM


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Steve Jones - SSC Editor (2/6/2013)
but by the same token I think users sometimes don't understand the data we see.

good to keep both things in perspective.


I think there is alot of truth in this but from two different sides of dealing with data.

From the Users side:

They seem to focus on the whole forest without understanding the individual trees that make it up. This sometimes can cause them to come to wrong conclusions and expections about their data.

From the DBA side:

Obversely, we seem to start with the tree instead of looking at the overall forest. This can cause us to come to wrong conclusions about the overall purpose of the data. I have seen this many times in bad data design all over the place simply because the DBA didn't fully understand the overall purpose of what the data was to provide. He/she was looking just too close at the fine detail.

Sometimes not knowing the BIG picture, or not knowing the DETAIL, can really hurt you, but it all depends on what side of the aisle you are standing on. I always try to keep this in mind whenever I meet with DBA's versus when I meet with a roomful of users. Like a mentor of mine once said. "Travis, always keep in mind the audience of who you are talking to.". Words to live by in this business.


"Technology is a weird thing. It brings you great gifts with one hand, and it stabs you in the back with the other. ..."
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