TMI or Too Much Information is an expression we employ when someone starts to share details about their lives that we do not care to hear. You know, the night they just spent at this club in Prague . . . ‘you wouldn’t believe what happened!’ Yes, yes I would you say and then saving yourself the scars on your soul, you employ the TMI pleading.
In the age of BIG data, people are collecting data points on everything and we are just beginning to swim in this dangerous and enticing sea. Humans love certainty. Love it, love it, LOVE IT! And reams of data are like the sirens singing from the rocks. We don’t realize some important things about all this data:
- The more there is, the more noise there is and the harder it is to find the signal.
- Data is always about the past and it does nothing to tell us reliably about risk and opportunity in the future.
- The relevance, accuracy and precision of the data – who’s checking that?
- People will find the signals they want in the data – surely you’ve seen the Nun Bun or the face of Jesus in a piece of toast . . .
The punchline for our certainty starved minds is that the more data there is, the less certain we can be but we think that it is the opposite. This is the worst possible situation.
So before you sell your soul to the sirens of big data or are swept away in the Tsunami that it will bring . . . think about holding up your hand and saying TMD. Too Much Data.