Friday, June 3, 2011

When is too much data necessary?

Ben Goldacre wrote an interesting article last week about research findings that never receive the attention or scrutiny of the academic arena or the public. His point was a bit blurred by the article's strange introduction, but I believe that he was trying to say that our prejudices selectively filter results that we find interesting. This in turn leads to "walled gardens" of knowledge that can negatively impact not just ourselves but society.

However, without any type of filtering I suspect that the amount of information that needs to be processed and weighed is simply too much to handle. Goldacre alludes to this in the concluding paragraph.
The most interesting questions aren’t around individual nuggets of data, but rather how we can corral it to create an information architecture which serves up the whole picture.
What is a good information architecture for society to adopt? Clearly a single individual can not process everything, so the task must be performed by a complex body of professionals and academics.