MAY 1, 2012 4:19am ET

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Data Management is Based on Philosophy, Not Science

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There's a joke running around on Twitter that the definition of a data scientist is “a data analyst who lives in California.” I'm sure the good natured folks of the Golden State will not object to me bringing this up to make a point. The point is: Thinking purely in terms of marketing, which is a better title -- data scientist or data philosopher?

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Comments (15)
Although great, I think there still is imprecision in the column. Data Science might be closest to the Philosophical area, Epistemology (roughly, philosophy of knowing).

The tool/method -centric approach that is popular now is valuable but going back to the roots and limits of them is critical. One might check the somewhat obscure philosopher Wittgenstein and the more popular Popper for limits of science/data regarding knowledge. (Although, I've just given away my edge in the field )

If I ever do the Ph.D., that would be my area. Interested in your and other's views on my comments.

Posted by Phil M | Tuesday, May 01 2012 at 11:16AM ET
Agile developers would love to refer to data analysts as philosophers to malign the discipline of data management as opinion while they deal in facts. It is true that because data management occurs primarily in the planning, analysis, and design phases, that a derived benefit in dollars is difficult to estimate. Data Management in fact is closer to geometry in that there are basic assumptions that must be made, but if followed they provide benefits, such as: one fact one place, management understanding the logical structure of their data to manage the enterprise, parallel the physical with the logical as much as reasonable, share data, implement/maintain data quality. If developers design your database they tend to optimize it to support their development rather than the actual system operation. If designed by report analysts, one tends to find many copies of the same data in the data warehouse, sometimes one for each report, which is responsible for the volume of data multiplying by 2 every seven years. Data analysis is really common sense in harmony with the KISS principle. Principled data management is similar to principled actions in any other walk of life, can be called philosophy or opinion, but is necessary to successfully maintain control of an enterprise's data, limit cost growth, and to stem chaos.
Posted by Thomas B | Tuesday, May 01 2012 at 11:20AM ET
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