5 Not-to-be-Missed Ideas about Big Data
The things we can measure are never exactly what we care about; When everything hinges on metrics, people will game the metrics to the point of losing any meaning; and more key ideas summarized by Kaiser Fung.
By Kaiser Fung (Junkcharts).
If I believed in upvoting, I would be clicking my fingers bent on this op-ed article that appeared in the New York Times at the beginning of May. It's written by "data scientists" at Facebook and Google. (Thanks Dean Eckles for drawing my attention to it!)
Here are a list of important ideas not to be missed:
- The things we can measure are never exactly what we care about
- When everything hinges on metrics, people will game the metrics to the point of losing any meaning
- Big data in the form of behaviors and small data in the form of surveys complement each other
- Data teams should hire social psychologists, anthropologists and sociologists
- Human experts help data experts figure out what they are missing
Here are some old posts on the blog that dig into those topics, in chronological order:
Numbersense in education (link): gaming statistics, subjectivity in metrics, accountability and metrics
Toward a more useful definition of Big Data (link): limitations of Big Data
Big Delusion (link): the idea that survey research is killed by Big Data
An Anthropological study shows why complete data designs are counterproductive (link): data is incomplete, shoe-leather research
Two unsolved problems of Big Data studies: confirmation and controls (link): limits of data, need for human investigation, incomplete answers
The false promise of data correction (link): errors in data, gaming of data
Pondering OCCAM data in medicine (link): thinking about what is missing in the data
Count data are less useful than you think (link): limits of metrics
Reflecting on Alamar's reflection on sports data (link): too much data, subjective metrics
Some data science principles from Gelman, Rosling and me (link): data not enough, there is still uncertainty
Sense and Nonsense about Big Data and Surveys (link): surveys still important.
Bio: Kaiser Fung is a Marketing and Advertising Analytics expert, author and speaker. Currently at Vimeo and NYU.
- Interview: Kaiser Fung, NYU on Why Statistical Reasoning is more important than Number Crunching
- Interview: Kaiser Fung, NYU on Why Ignoring Data Integrity is a Recipe for Disaster
- What is numbersense – test yours