The world of DSS and data warehousing is full of contradiction ­ at the design level, the implementation level and even the end-user execution level. Some transactions operate at the detail level, some at the summary level. Some queries execute very quickly while some take hours. Some queries are submitted regularly and other queries are submitted only once. How is one to make sense out of decision support and data warehousing? The key to understanding the data warehouse, DSS and its contradictions is to understand the many different and diverse audiences that make up the DSS community of users.

Several years ago I observed that there were farmers and explorers in the DSS community. While viewing DSS and data warehousing from different perspectives, many of the seeming contradictions were cleared up. Then, a little later, while working with Katherine Glassey of Brio Technology, Katherine introduced me to tourists. The theme of tourists/farmers/explorers played well and indeed explained many more aspects of DSS. But just recently Michael Berry, co-author (with Gordon S. Linhoff) of the leading book on data mining, Data Mining Techniques for Marketing, Sales and Customer Support, has introduced me to another character in decision support land, the "data miner."

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