Data is an imperfect abstraction of the world. We use blindly this interface as reality itself. This is obscurantism and data humanists are here to switch the light on.

Design of the result of the data humanism case study

The world is made of complicated mechanisms and interactions. Thus, the data capturing the world is also complex. But do we always consider this complexity when working with data ?

In Big Data projects, a piece of data is just one more line. The more lines there are, the more credible the dataset is. The line itself is no more than a drop in the ocean and does not represent anything anymore. It has no specific form, and gives us very little hook on reality. Data is a magic plasma which we feed to data visualization tools which then recommend us the best way of depicting it.

As far as data visualization is concerned, especially dashboards in which each widget answers a specific question and gives a limited amount of information, we hope to explain complex phenomena with generic questions and formatted answers.

Most of the time, data is just what we take from the world to answer our most valuable questions. We lose the sense of what data represents. Thus, its complexity in not considered.