What we forsake for the sake of digital data

We tend to think data is king. If it doesn’t exist in the virtual world, it mustn’t exist right? But the stuff on the internet is really a mix of data and information. There’s a difference? Yes. Data needs to be interpreted to be formed into information. Daily rainfall over a year is just data. If it rains 9mm on June 11th, it is hard to understand what that means unless it is put into context. Information might be derived by comparing it to the daily rainfall in the other days of June, or indeed to June’s in other years past. Yet the pseudo data of the internet thwarts the way we think. Some people assume that nothing exists beyond internet bytes, yet the opposite is true. Tangible data exists in the world around us, but then maybe we live in an age where many people tend to ignore this?

The libraries of unscanned books, the historical record, the artifacts that have marked our long existence. Forsaking this data is akin to misinterpreting the world around us. Historians will agree… much of the data they dig for can only be found in non-digital sources. Heaven forbid the idea of experiential anything. Leave the comfort of your tablet? Data on the internet is also sometimes a red herring – you think you have found something, but the reality is often quite the opposite.

On the other hand the internet does allow us to obtain books from all over the world, opening a door that required much more effort before… I’m talking about sites like Abebooks. Another positive is that people who have knowledge opt to share it by means of blogs – free information, shared with all, much like it really should be. There are also copious historic manuscripts like cookbooks that have been digitized. But I have to say I prefer physical books. Their information is timeless. E-books? They didn’t really make the impact they were suppose to, much like AI won’t produce all it purports. Some people view Wikipedia as a source, but it is not a definitive source. So where does that leave us?

People need to think more about the data they look at, and how they interpret it into information. Look beyond the digital world of data and explore the real world of information. One can easily read a book about what Saxons ate, or one could experiment and actually cook some of the food. Or go even further and visit a Saxon-era open-air museum such as West Stow Anglo-Saxon Village.

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