Gold Mining Versus Data Mining

glittering gold

glittering gold

Being a North Carolina native and current North Carolina dweller, I enjoy shared N.C.-related factoids.

Were you aware that the first discovery of gold in the U.S. occurred in North Carolina? It’s true. The birthplace of American gold was not in California, as you might guess, but, rather, was here in the Old North State. Gold was first discovered here on the Reed Farm in Cabarrus County in 1799.

I recall studying The California Gold Rush during my youth, and I remember wondering about the character traits and motivations of those thousands of gold-seekers. I imagined that they were adventurous and driven souls, daring to immigrate to California and brave harsh mining conditions in order to attain a golden precious metal that could offer life-changing opportunities.

Today, we live amongst miners of a different type – data miners. Hundreds of thousands of them, and I wonder…what character traits do those successful in data mining hold?

Are the data miners of today similar in nature to the gold miners of yesterday? Are they adventurous and driven by the promise of better opportunities? Or, are data miners today “safer” in outlook and more rigid in nature, preferring mathematical and statistical rules and order, steps and procedures?

Back in 2005, while answering a question about the difference between analytics and data mining, Larissa Moss explained that those engaged in data mining often do not know what they’re searching for: “One of the official definitions for data mining is: ‘Data analysis without preconceived hypothesis to unearth unsuspected or unknown relationships, patterns or associations of data.’ Simply put, ‘without preconceived hypothesis’ means you don’t know exactly what you are looking for…”

In our Big Data world, data miners have to sift through daunting amounts of systems-generated data, and not knowing what they’re looking for means data miners must be open-minded, curious, seeking, and, to at least some degree, adventurous.

What do you think? Do you think the practice of data mining isn’t for the faint of heart? Or do you think yesterday’s gold miners would say today’s data miners have it easy?

Imagine a data miner of today traveling back in time to the early 1800s. Imagine that data miner sharing a cold beer in an Old West saloon with a gold miner, tired from spending hours in a mine searching for gold. Imagine the gold miner complaining to the data miner about the challenges of gold mining. How do you think the data miner would respond?

I imagine that the data miner might answer with, “Aw shucks! At least you know exactly what you’re looking for!”

Big Memes and Big Data

Wordle: Memes and Data
Internet memes are one form of Internet phenomena that I haven’t exactly gravitated towards.

What about you?  Do you have any favorites?

If you want to see some Internet memes recently highlighted as best of breed, check out these “best of” lists:

The Best Memes of the Last 15 Years
The 25 Best Internet Memes of All Time
The 100 Greatest Internet Memes of All Time

If you’d like to create your own meme, there are many sites that you can access to do so, such as Imgflip or Makeameme.

Working for a business analytics software provider, the topic of data and data analytics is always top of mind for me. However, all you have to do is browse the Internet, turn on the TV or open a newspaper or magazine to see how the word, “data,” is dominating the collective mindset today.

Without doubt, more and more companies across a variety of industries and locations are recognizing the tremendous business value that they can realize from better managing and analyzing their organizations’ “Big Data.” Yes, it seems that more and more eyes inside organizations are focused on examining data to gain insights for enhanced business decision-making that yields increased efficiencies, customer satisfaction and profits.

Recognizing this new data-centered world that we’re all living in, I was inspired to create my own Internet meme.  Check it out:





The Knowledge Timer is Set to On

Coleman Yard Stake with Outdoor Mechanical Timer

Coleman Yard Stake with Outdoor Mechanical Timer

Christmastime dilemma:  last year, you bought a fantastic timer to control exactly when your outdoor Christmas lights would turn on and off.  This year, you’ve located the timer and the outdoor lights, but you can’t remember how to work the timer and can’t find the timer directions.

What can you do?  Google the answer, of course (I know a certain married couple who actually solved this same dilemma yesterday by doing so).

It seems that answers to holiday questions and myriads of other question types are only a few clicks away in our modern mobile computing age.

But, can you remember a different time when information wasn’t so readily available?

In the late ‘70s and early ‘80s while growing up down South, I can remember how access to certain information was hard to reach.  For example, there were only a couple of ways that my sisters, mother and women friends of ours could gain access to knowledge about the latest “New York fashions.”  We could watch the daily wardrobe changes of TV soap opera characters like Erica Kane, try to catch Elsa Klensch’s fashion segments on CNN or take actual trips to NYC itself, which we occasionally managed.  With our limited access to related information at the time, the fashion world in NYC and other global cities like Paris seemed so exotic.

This year, when I accessed actual New York Fashion Week runway segments directly on my computer via Live Runway, I had to smile inside, imagining how excited I would have been as a teenage girl with that kind of direct access to the latest trends in global fashion.

No doubt, computer technology has helped to democratize our access to all types of information, fashion-related and otherwise.

My question is:  now that so many of us have more access to the information that we seek, what are we doing with our enhanced knowledge?

What about you?  What kind of once-hidden information has today’s technology provided to you, and how are you using the new information that you’ve learned?

Last, in this age of Big Data and in these days of information deluge, what critical information do you think remains hidden?

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