How gravy will make your data more tasty
1 min read

How gravy will make your data more tasty

How gravy will make your data more tasty

I get uncomfortable when people talk about 'harnessing the power of big data'. In my younger years, I thought this was because mathematics was my weakest subject at school. But, it turns out my lazy brain might have been on to something.

As you may have noticed, I enjoy words, images and design. They are the soul of our cultures and society.

They also cannot be measured and for that I am pleased because these are things that transcend life, including spreadsheets.

"If economists wished to study the horse, they wouldn't go and look at horses. They'd sit in their studies and say to themselves, "What would I do if I were a horse?" - Ronald Coase

The never-ending unpredictability of the world reveals how we are unable to create systems that determine with accuracy what will happen.

Why?

Because us humans have imperfect perceptions, memories and cognitive functions. To fill the imperfect gaps we rely on beliefs and heuristics to make decisions.

The thing is, because we keep convincing ourselves that we are thoroughly logical, we'll go to great lengths to attribute past actions to clear thinking.

Billionaire George Soros' back gets notoriously painful when he senses an opportunity to make money, but once he's cashed out he'll happily explain his rational approach in great detail.

Trying to understand and predict the world's past, present and future would be a useless endeavour without attempting to understand what is happening inside people.

And how do you step inside people? Not just through clicks and columns, that's for sure.

Instead, we do it by being historians, piecing together the world through images, words and design.

That, my friends, is what produces thick data.

Or, put another way, gravy.

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