The Beauty of Data

Carrie Fowle, Data Scientist

My Beliefs


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.        


Technical Complexity does not equal Value 

People with technical training have a nasty little habit of glorifying the complex and frowning on the simple. Data scientists are guilty of the same vice: prefering the sexiest techniques to simpler, classic ones. However, a simple model applied in the correct setting can generate far more value than the lastest hot model applied to the wrong problem.

Data science, at least done correctly, is a highly utilitarian field with no room for extraneous flash. It has no room for the vanity of indulging in technical complexity when it does nothing to increase the quality of the information it produces.   


Analytics Will RevolutionizE  fashion and beautY  

Fashion and beauty generate a lot of data: transactions, images, stores visits, Instagram likes. And so far, much of this data is still untapped. Many houses are still in the world of descriptive statistics, and as they  open to the world of predcitive and prescriptive analytics, allowing it to inform their business and design process, we will see them grow not only in their ability to compete with encroaching tech firms but also in creativity.   

My hope is that analytics will allow firms focused on art and craft to extend their reign into the 21st century, keeping their artistry alive and providing their perspective on the role technology can play in art.