Chapter 2Understand Your Starting Point

We have access to more data than ever before but it has become confusing and contradictory to the point that the quality of data is considered a discipline in its own right, as if it isn't a given you can trust it. At what point did we stop trusting data? It is not only the volume of data that makes it confusing it is how we use it.

To fall back on a very old quote from Mark Twain, ‘There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of a trifling investment of fact’. Or to put it another way, we can use data to give us many different outcomes depending on what we do with it. If we don't stop to check that we are agreed as we manipulate or extrapolate from it then we are heading in very different and competing directions.

(Of course, Mark Twain also said ‘Data is like garbage. You'd better know what you are going to do with it before you collect it’—and we are sure that there are lots of data scientists who would argue with that point, but maybe that is an argument for another day.)

This chapter is about knowing where you are starting from. The whole point of this is to make sure you understand where you are so that everything you are planning can be built on solid foundations and that you clearly see the picture you are dealing with. It's also about understanding where you are trying to get to. The start and end of the treasure map.

You are a data adventurer and you know there is a really valuable ...

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