Data cannot be separated from the objectives for which the data are created

If a person receives data but does not know what the data are meant for, the receiver of the data will not understand these data. Data contain implicit knowledge that can only be understood when the receiver understands the goal (purpose, objective) of the data. In order to clarify, the following story.

Suppose I recently moved. I wake up one morning and I find a note on the table. The note says: "Height of the living room 2 meter 55" I thought: "Well, that's convenient, I just wanted to buy a cupboard that fits exactly under the ceiling". So I bought a cupboard of 2 meter 55 and I put it together. I raised the cupboard to put it upright. However, the cupboard didn't fit! 
 Irritated I went to my wife who was clearly the writer of that note. I said: "You didn't measure the height of the living room correctly!". "Well," my wife responded "that depends on how you look at it. I want to paper the walls of the living room. When papering the walls there is only one thing you want to prevent. You want to prevent that one of the sheets of wallpaper is a little bit too short at the bottom. So this is what I did: I measured the height of our living room at different places because a room is not of the same height at all the different places. From these measurements, I took the largest height. That again, I rounded of upwards. In that way I will never have a sheet of wallpaper that is too short at the bottom. For me this height is perfect. But for you, for buying a cupboard that fits, it turns out not be a perfect height." 

The data contained knowledge that could not be understood without knowing the purpose of the data. When not knowing the purpose of the data, there will always be some hidden knowledge in the data. This knowledge was put in the data because the supplier of the data understands the purpose of the data. From this understanding the supplier makes choices. The real world has enormous complexity. Therefor it is impossible to predict what all the choices are that the supplier of the data will make. Let alone that these choices can all be put into one definition. These choices need to be understood. These choices can only be understood if the receiver of the data understands the purpose. Without understanding the purpose, data will always contain implicit knowledge.   

Comments