Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Is Data Mining Dangerous?

I've had my share of data mining mishaps, but never quite this severe...

Five Workers Trapped in Data Mining Accident
By Brian Briggs

New York, NY - Five workers were trapped in their cubicle while data mining at the research firm Thompson, Thompson and Gowhoopie. The last communication with the workers was an instant message that asked for “sandwiches from Gino's.” After that, it's believed the workers battery-back up system failed and left them without any means to contact the surface.

See the full story here.

(HT Daniele Micci-Barreca)

Monday, June 25, 2007

To Graph Or Not To Graph

Recently, I had an interesting conversation with an associate regarding graphs. My colleague had worked with someone who held the opinion that graphs were worthless, since anything you might decide based on a graph should really be decided based on a statistic. My initial response was to reject this idea. I have used graphs a number of times in my work, and believed them to be useful, although I readily admit that in many cases, a simple numeric measure or test could have been substituted, and may have added precision to the analysis. Data visualization and related technologies are all the rage at the moment, but I wonder (despite having a nerd's appetite for computer eye-candy) whether data mining should perhaps be moving away from these human-centric tools.