📑 Why Data Is Never Raw

Bookmarked Why Data Is Never Raw (The New Atlantis)
“Raw data is both an oxymoron and a bad idea; to the contrary, data should be cooked with care.” “Raw” carries a sense of natural or untouched, while “cooked” suggests the result of cognitive processes. But data is always the product of cognitive, cultural, and institutional processes that determine what to collect and how to collect it. In this sense, “raw data” is indeed a contradiction in terms. In the ordinary use of the term “raw data,” “raw” signifies that no processing was performed following data collection, but the term obscures the various forms of processing that necessarily occur before data collection. (Summary via Tom Woodward)
Sometimes I wonder if I write just to be glad when I find my thought more clearly articulated by somebody else. As I wrote elsewhere, data ain’t data, it is never raw, instead it is always involves some sort of bias and interpretation.

Assumptions inevitably find their way into the data and color the conclusions drawn from it. Moreover, they reflect the beliefs of those who collect the data. As economist Ronald Coase famously remarked, “If you torture the data enough, nature will always confess.” And journalist Lena Groeger, in a 2017 ProPublica story on the biases that visual designers inscribe into their work, soundly noted that “data doesn’t speak for itself — it echoes its collectors.”

via Tom Woodward

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *