For the love of data


To be really into policy, or science, or weather, you tend to need to be a data nerd. If you’re into all three, data can sometimes seem to rule your life.

You might be wondering what is that random graph above? The average daily dew point at Reagan National Airport (KDCA) throughout the 2000s. More importantly, why is the data above? 2015 has been a sticky summer in D.C. (at times at least), so I went on a hunt to find out just how sticky.

One quick answer presented itself in the simple data above: perhaps it’s been less sticky than it seems. I suspect a deeper dive throws some caveats into that though.

Data has the power to unlock a lot of mysteries, and it is doing so more and more given the increasingly digitized world. It can also lead people down a path to nowhere. Whether those handling and/or manipulating the data tell others that’s where they ended up or not is another matter. Data also helps quite a lot with trivia skills.

At work I’ve managed data collection and analysis for the Afghanistan Index and the Iraq Index. I’ve also done so for numerous books like the recently released Future of Land Warfare, as well as other projects. In my weather job, I’ve taken all sorts of data apart and put it back together again. I’ve done so to tell stories of what can be expected, and also seeking evidence about unknown trends. Then there’s my “obsession” with tornadoes. Weird, I know.

The thing about data is it keeps being created faster than we can digest it. These days, waaaaaaaay faster. I know I’ll continue to take a steady diet as long as I can.

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