AUG 2, 2011 9:18am ET

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Are You Turning Ugly Data Into Cute Information?

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Sometimes the ways of the data force are difficult to understand precisely because they are sometimes difficult to see.

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Comments (2)
Beauty is sensed by the eyes, music sensed by the ears and both are appreciated (or not) by the mind.

Truth and data are not sensed but perceived or experienced by the mind. Humans have no sensors for data. Data has no physical, chemical or biological characteristics to be sensed. Data isn't ugly, cute, beautiful or hideous. That is why data quality is such an amorphous concept. Yet we keep trying to sense data quality using tools and techniques from entity domains that have physical proprieties like cars and toasters.

How do we measure truth?

One often suggested quality characteristic for data is its representation of reality. How do you measure this quality characteristic? What is reality? Does a customer name present the reality of a customer?

Converting ugly data to cute data or making data presentable is more of an artistic rather than scientific proces so perhaps we should focus on the color palette we use to represent the data rather than attempting to "clean" the data. Present the data as is, with all its flaws and defects for all to see. Only then can we begin to "sense" how people experience that data.

Posted by Richard O | Tuesday, August 02 2011 at 2:32PM ET
I dont agree with Keep it simple - I agree with you Jim - I have what i call the Good, the bad and the Ugly data and you have marked the ugly side correctly - these groupings help define what the problem is bad data isnt really defective its just been tainted by that ETL process with ugly (defective data) and the really ugly data poisions everything in its path. There is a behaviour and a pattern to it ... lets search deeper
Posted by jennifer o | Friday, October 14 2011 at 5:02PM ET
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