As are other things. But data, over the last decade or so, have really been central to the argument, the politics, the money.
And data analysis has gotten big. Huge. To the point where it’s difficult to imagine any industry moving forward without involving itself with data.
But data are things. And things are about to change.
Prediction: as the Web itself integrates with the built stuff-of-life, from microcosmic connected nanobots to macrocosmic connected cities, data analysis will become more about the way we connect with the digital in the physical world than how we access it through the “traditional” means of screen or touchpad.
And how will we measure the impact and significance of that? How will those measurements — measurements of movement, circulation, and physicality — or those problems — problems of security, privacy, and hyperconnection — influence education and innovation? What happens when the digital leaves the computer and becomes ingrained in the way we construct and build our physical environment — both within and without ourselves?
Data are neither good nor bad. Data are things. We’ve been trained to think of those things as caught and captured within the bits and bytes of our devices; for the sake of really innovating, we may need to think in terms of the bits and bytes of our beings.