What word describes a more interactive relationship with data?
My last column described my discovery of the word "consilience" as a terrific explanation of the intrinsic value of big data. The point was that more data is better, even if (in my words), "We're still digging through the same old manure in the same old way - but with a bigger shovel."
That got me scratching my head, wondering if there weren't a better word for "digging."
The classic language for dealing with lots of data includes data mining and data diving. These are fine phrases for the activity of looking for something in particular - some new pattern. I was looking for something that describes a more interactive relationship with data.
Discovery sounded good but that term has already been relegated to the act of tripping over a previously unknown correlation or pattern.
I needed a word for a brain activity that is more creative, more imaginative, more visionary. Mining, diving, and discovery imply that there is something buried or submerged, simply waiting to be uncovered (or discovered).
Granted, the analysts I know spend a good deal of time on that sort of work. Sadly, they spend an even greater amount of time cranking out voluminous reports that masquerade as useful information. But there's another activity that really gets their juices flowing and makes time fly because they are having fun.
It is an artistic endeavor. It is creative, exciting, engaging, a little wild sometimes, thoroughly engrossing, and when it results in an interesting, valuable, and useful insight, overwhelmingly rewarding.
I've asked dozens of people and have been handed lots of ideas, but they have simply tried to bend current terms of art to my new meaning. We need a new expression that doesn't carry the same data baggage as:
Data modeling. You model the flow of data in a business process so you can build a system to support it, or you build a mathematical model that explains an available data set in order to predict the future.
Data diving. Like "mining" only in this case we're looking for underground water rather than minerals.
Data sculpting. As Michelangelo put it, "Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it."
Data munging. The act of getting multiple types of data into a similar enough format that they can be analyzed together. As Mike refers to it, "the painful process of cleaning, parsing, and proofing one's data before it's suitable for analysis."
Etc. That thing you say when you're tired of coming up with examples. (See: yada, yada, yada.)
And so I propose the following supplement to our data vernacular:
Canoodling. The act of getting up close and personal with data in a way that is most likely to beget new insights.
I remain inquisitively awaiting your linguistic recommendations...
Join the Industry's Leading eCommerce & Direct Marketing Experts in Chicago
ClickZ Live Chicago (Nov 3-6) will deliver over 50 sessions across 4 days and 10 individual tracks, including Data-Driven Marketing, Social, Mobile, Display, Search and Email. Check out the full agenda and register by Friday, Oct 3 to take advantage of Early Bird Rates!
Jim Sterne is an international consultant who focuses on measuring the value of the Web as a medium for creating and strengthening customer relationships. Sterne has written eight books on using the Internet for marketing, is the founding president and current chairman of the Digital Analytics Association and produces the eMetrics Summit and the Media Analytics Summit.
IBM Social Analytics: The Science Behind Social Media Marketing
80% of internet users say they prefer to connect with brands via Facebook. 65% of social media users say they use it to learn more about brands, products and services. Learn about how to find more about customers' attitudes, preferences and buying habits from what they say on social media channels.
The Multiplier Effect of Integrating Search & Social Advertising
Latest research reveals 68% higher revenue per conversion for marketers who integrate their search & social advertising. In addition to the research results, this whitepaper also outlines 5 strategies and 15 tactics you can use to better integrate your search and social campaigns.
September 17, 2014
September 23, 2014
September 30, 2014
1:00pm ET/10:00am PT