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Data is just that - Data

It was August 2018 at the Great Rift Valley Safari Lodge. That beautiful place in the wild you know. If you have not gone there you better make it your life's goal. You lose nothing if that is all you will ever achieve in this life. Sometimes it is good to aim at small nice things. If bigger ones come by and you become Deputy President by tragic accident like Ruto William, there is no harm. You can then become anything including a public thief. But, yes, that place is beautiful. I always found it quite refreshing holding events there. I know some people will tell me about other ‘better places.’ Don’t. But August 2018 was the last time I was at Greenland (that is its other name). If you are taking a taxi from Naivasha town you rather say you are going to Greenland before you are ‘losted’ (that is past tense for someone losing you) in Kiswahili ‘anakupoteza.’ And so that event in August happened to be the last training I co-facilitated. Don't ask me why last. Because I will tell you. I haven't done another since then. So you see it is the last in that sense. Lest a mad guy down the road comes to tell me ‘ati’ (note there is no English equivalent for this) you said you co-facilitated your last event already. But here is the thing. Somehow we ended up discussing information management systems during one of the sessions. Well, this may not be my co-competence; I don’t have even a certificate in informations but, like Ruto and Weston hotel, let me say, I got some interests. Right? My fren! Yes, I have had well over 5 years’ experience working on institutional capacity issues and stuff like that within non-profit sector especially as an independent Viwango assessor, a position I still hold to date even if am unable to transact any more. Furthermore, I have had interests and experiences on program design and management and research and stuff like that. This is a language only Thabo Mbeki understands so don’t mind and stuff like that. As such information management has been a significant part of my professional ‘tangatangaism’ (caution, knew word alert). Now. Here is the thing. Someone, in that forum held at Greenland in August last year seemed to argue that data (yes data) was so important, very crucial that it was almost everything around which information management systems revolve. I found this an exaggeration if not a misrepresentation. I begged to differ with him but did it quite generously. Otherwise, I should have told him that data, per se, in and by itself is less meaningful if not outright useless. Data starts acquiring shape, meaning and usefulness once it has been cleaned, organized, most of the time manipulated, and interpreted and applied. That is the process through which consumable information is extracted from data. Until and unless that process happens data is a chunk of often confused and unrelated things which tell the world nothing. Plus. Data is menacingly present and available. There is nothing so commonplace like data I dare tell you. It’s until someone with some expertise and the interest start extracting it scientifically (meaning in a manner that is organized not in William Ruto’s distorted conception of science) and processing it, that data starts acquiring a semblance of something. Until this happens data is actually not useful. Yes. Data remains useless until it interacts with a scientific mind. So if data is so central in information management (just as is the case in any field, really it is because of existence of science and expertise. In this case I would disrupt a model that has data as a nucleus and rearrange it in a manner that is yet to be known (at least by me). But you see I could not be too radical in my disagreement with him. We must have left there with a bunch of guys who still believe data was almost everything they needed. And we were paid actually. I have no idea if, my friend would have gotten converted had I put it to him this way. But it appears he went to the school where he was taught that data was sacred and/or we had different understandings of what data actually means. Maybe he actually meant information but was using data? Anyway.

Data is just that - Data Data is just that - Data Reviewed by Ibrahim Magara on March 29, 2019 Rating: 5


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