Introduction

No data point is an island,Entire of itself,Every data point is a piece of the continent,A part of the pattern.

The venerable poet John Donne must be turning in his grave with this paraphrase of his beautiful meditation “No man is an island,” but I couldn’t find a better way to express the nature of data, which have a context and a web of relationships. The path to knowledge lies in discovering and making these relationships visible.

Social change and technological progress have made the world a more uncertain place. As another poet, Luís de Camões (not related), said, “Change doesn’t change like it used to.” In an effort to cope with uncertainty, we put technology at the service of mass data production and retrieval. This has been ...

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