Indiana Jones of the 22nd Century: Data, Not Dirt...

5 archaeological findings of data findings

Top 5 archaeological findings of 2016 can be aligned with our data findings today.

 

 

I’ve often likened the work that we do as data scientists and analysts as a form of archaeology.  Instead of painstakingly digging through dirt, we painstakingly dig through data. Data are the new bones, relics, and scrolls of our modern society.

Think about it:

You will be remembered for the emails you left behind, the transactions that were completed online, the posts you made on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and the photos and videos uploaded to YouTube and Instagram.  They are not easily forgotten or even deleted from the environment.

Ask anyone who has had a loved one die and has tried to remove her Facebook page.

In 2016, there were several new findings for civilization unearthed by archaeological groups around the world. When studying these finds, I discovered similarities to the data issues that we face every day in business.

These top five archaeological findings of 2016 can be aligned with our data findings today:

1. Noah’s Ark Mosaic

Located in a Huqoq, Israel synagogue, depicts animals parading into the ark two by two.

We’ve all heard the Bible story of Noah’s Ark, and there is a common belief that, at God’s command, Noah loaded two of each species of animal into his ark. On the walls of an ancient building is a mosaic that portrays that scriptural tale.

Whether fact or a factual illustration of fiction, the mosaic is a data point for historians to consider.

In data terms, we are constantly looking for “mosaics” like this.

We have a hypothesis and look to our data to confirm or, at least, give us more context around it. We use data to help in providing a complete picture of “facts” from the past. The new-found data enriches our understanding of a known problem or provides us a new avenue to explore.

2. Kazakhstan site 

Revealed a 1500-year-old stone complex, similar to Stonehenge.

The site, equivalent in size to 200 American football fields, appears to have been built by the Huns and contains previously undiscovered information about the Hun civilization. We had not looked in this desolate region before this discovery. The finding may alter the path of future investigations.

Today, in the world of data, analysts and data scientists continually make discoveries of information that had been previously unknown or unseen.

For example, data scientists might find a dataset that appears to be complete. On closer examination, they discover there are elements of the data not available or previously uncollected. Locating data to fill this hole provides a new direction and sometimes a completely different understanding.

Next page- Data findings #3 through  #5

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About the author

Theresa Kushner

Theresa Kushner is a journalist-turned-marketer and Vice President of Enterprise Information Management at VMware.  She is responsible for master data management, business intelligence and advanced analytics.  She and Maria Villar co-write a column for LatinBusinessToday.com. They are co-authors of Managing Your Business Data: From Chaos to Confidence, published by Racom Books in 2008.