The meaning of
DATA200: The same words as
data have easily 200 times more value than as isolated text. Recent
history has proven that; we have gone to war and been successfully
attacked in large part because of this critical difference.
Information and Data are not identical!
Some thoughts about Data:
Data is an American Invention: The inventor of automated data collection was the great Herman Hollerith, who invented the punch card and tabulating card machines for the Census of 1890. The company that he founded is now known by the initials IBM. An IBM engineer, Edgar (Ted) Codd in turn invented the modern relational database. His wife, Sharon Codd, invented OLAP, (On-Line Analytical Processing), also known as FASMI (Fast Analysis of Shared Multidimensional Information. Bill Inmon invented the Data Warehouse.
Some examples why Data and Information are not the same:
EXAMPLE 1: The Iraq War
The present U. S. and British practice of using a "tea leaf reading" approach to handle vast amounts of intelligence information, relying on the intelligence equivalent of a psychic reader, was outdated with the invention of relational databases. The effect is that someone not trained in this "tea leaf reading" art can look at intelligence snippets and come up with conclusions that the professionals can not refute.
Some of this information was already known for years to be false or dubious, such as the alleged Iraqi uranium purchase attempts in Niger cited in the President's State of the Union Address, which for lack of a database, was still floating around without a "fraud" label attached to it.
Incidentally, The San Francisco Chronicle had an interesting editorial / commentary on the Intelligence community's failure to factor in fraud and corruption in its Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) analyses. It can be reached HERE. As one who lived in countries where such practices were common, I can well attest to the importance of factoring in corruption. If the starting inventory of WMD is seriously overstated because of fraud, you can not conclude that there are remaining WMD based solely on subtraction from that fraudulent count.
EXAMPLE 2: September 11, 2001
As reported to the Congressional Committee investigating 9/11, there were no databases tracking dangerous individuals. There still aren't and the Congressional mandate to create one is unfulfilled to date. And, there were few "tea leaf readers" in the FBI and none in the INS. The FBI "tea leaf readers" were often unaware of information that the CIA "tea leaf readers" knew. If the information had been collated and shared among all the security agencies, the World Trade Center would still be standing.
As reported in the 6/28/2004 Business Week, "The "intelligence community" is really "a collection of fiefdoms without interoperable data that don't play nicely together," says Robert David Steele, a former CIA agent who now runs a private intelligence service, OSS.net. Over the past 50 years, 40 studies have noted the lack of focus, organization, and cooperation among the autonomous intelligence branches."
There was also a "Chinese Wall" enforced between foreign and domestic intelligence sources. This absurd construct, which is a creation of lawyers, and imposed by the Congress, was a major contributor to the 9/11 disaster. Legal fictions have imposed a tremendous burden on the United States, which is either blessed or cursed, depending on your perspective, with half of all the world's lawyers. We have 27 times our fair share of lawyers!!!!!!!
Were this information data, not text, and shared, it would have instantly shown up in standard commonality queries, raising many a warning flag! In the Government's defense, it should be noted that when the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) started to develop a reporting process and database to track alien students akin to that formerly used by the Selective Service System for draft deferments, it was stopped in its tracks by the protests of Colleges and Universities. The travel and tourism industries have enforced upon Immigration a visa-less travel system for those with European passports. And others have become dependent upon illegal immigrants for labor. All these groups have prevented the INS and its successor, ICE, from being truly effective.
The FBI apparently follows the outdated "dossier" approach! Text to them is not data! It was particularly embarrassed to find out that it lost track of much information and evidence that it had about the Oklahoma City Bombing, which resulted in a one month postponement of the execution of Timothy McVeigh until his defense team could review and assess the matter. Despite its incredible and welcome success in this case, it walked away with much egg on its face. It deserves better.
We, as a nation, and individually don't need nor want an all inclusive dossier system, which is what characterizes totalitarian regimes. What we want and need is to keep better track of our enemies.
Our Sheriff has relatively better tools (for example, crimes are tracked and mapped into a Global Positioning based database) than do the FBI and CIA. He has the predictive tools that they lack.
Integrating the available data about our enemies with transactional information from Customs, Immigration and law enforcement using a Data Warehouse would increase the value exponentially. Everything known about an enemy in one place.
Unfortunately, we have made little progress in this area. Read the GAO 2005 High Risk Series, a copy of which is available HERE in Adobe PDF format (it requires that Adobe Acrobat Reader be installed on your computer). Then, you may want to call or write your Congressman/woman!