On Data

About eight years ago or so, my family got a sweet grandfather clock that belonged to my mom’s parents after her mother died. We packed it up carefully, removed the weights and all, and brought it from Birmingham to Gadsden, where we set it up again and it stands in our den.

Along with the clock came some papers, registration-type stuff. It includes everything from the date the clock was bought to the serial number to the names and addresses of the purchasers. They were all filled out in my grandfather’s handwriting. “Your grandfather fills out everything that has a line to it,” my mother told me.

I inherited that trait as well, the interest in data. I think that even in subjective situations, collecting enough data can allow the person who experienced it, or even people who did not experience the situation, to analyze and figure out factors for learning from failures and capitalizing on successes.

That’s why I like it when people take pictures and post them on the AIESEC GT blog, and I feel even better if they’re geotagged, have the date and time on them, and even if I can figure out the model of camera which took the picture. I like post-mortems on projects. I like to see where EVERY vote in EVERY election went, to EACH candidate, not just the Dems and Repubs. It takes almost no extra effort for the major newscorps to add that on their little Flash apps for the elections, but they don’t. Why not?

Everyone knows that Caesar crossed the Tiber and that was a no-no, but no one knows what he ate for lunch that day. We don’t know what Jesus’ favorite carpentry project was. Biographies rarely include which room of a hospital a famous figure was born in.

This is partly why lifecasting is unusually interesting to me.

These are the things I want to know!