Information is more important than Data
Today we are overwhelmed by data: numbers and strings floating around in meaningless zeros and ones. In colloquial speech, we are too quick to confuse data with information; however, in data science, this distiction is essential and keeps us from wasting our time producing nonsense. Data is anything that can be recorded and stored; information is something that we as people can use to understand the world around us and make decisions.
My job as data scientist is to take this opaque pile of otherwise useless records and morph it into something useful (and on my best days, something beautiful and inspiring). To do data science well, one must understand where the records came from, what information stakeholders will find useful, and how those stakeholders process information. In many ways, a data scientist is a curator of zeros and ones: combing through and synthesizing them, so the end user can get everything they need out of them as efficiently as possible.