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David Loshin

Welcome to my BeyeNETWORK Blog. This is going to be the place for us to exchange thoughts, ideas and opinions on all aspects of the information quality and data integration world. I intend this to be a forum for discussing changes in the industry, as well as how external forces influence the way we treat our information asset. The value of the blog will be greatly enhanced by your participation! I intend to introduce controversial topics here, and I fully expect that reader input will "spice it up." Here we will share ideas, vendor and client updates, problems, questions and, most importantly, your reactions. So keep coming back each week to see what is new on our Blog!

About the author >

David is the President of Knowledge Integrity, Inc., a consulting and development company focusing on customized information management solutions including information quality solutions consulting, information quality training and business rules solutions. Loshin is the author of The Practitioner's Guide to Data Quality Improvement, Master Data Management, Enterprise Knowledge Management: The Data Quality Approachand Business Intelligence: The Savvy Manager's Guide. He is a frequent speaker on maximizing the value of information. David can be reached at loshin@knowledge-integrity.com or at (301) 754-6350.

Editor's Note: More articles and resources are available in David's BeyeNETWORK Expert Channel. Be sure to visit today!

September 2009 Archives

Yesterday I read a great article about neuroscientist Craig Bennet who purchased an Atlantic salmon and put it under an fMRI machine to scan its (presumably non-working) brain. Oh, yes, by the way, it was a *dead* salmon. With the fish in the scanner, it was shown a series of pictures, and the salmon was "asked to determine what emotion the individual in the photo must have been experiencing."

While this already sounds like a fishy story, wait - it gets better: during the scanning, it appeared that "voxels" (video images indicating activity) showed up in the fish's brain. The simple conclusion? Dead fish can think!

Of course, that is ridiculous, and the purpose of the scanning was not to show that dead fish have brain activity when asked questions, but to look at how on occaision, random noise that creeps into these scans appears to show false positive information, with the objective to suggest more rigorous validation of statistical methods when attempting to filter out random noise so as to prevent drawing conclusions from what is potentially flawed data.

While I would call this a less orthodox process for establishing the value of data quality, it certainly provides a general lesson regarding quality of information on output from a reporting activitiy.


Posted September 24, 2009 6:09 AM
Permalink | No Comments |

So far I have seen a number of environments that have paid lip service to metadata as the be-all and end-all to solving all enterprise data issues and solidifying all enterprise data management needs. The reality seems to be that there is a lot of value for metadata in a number of instances although the value proposition for the investment in a full-scale implementation still seems to be lacking somewhat.

Some basic implementations cover data entity definitions, structures, and corresponding data element definitions and structure as well. Yet often the metadata repository is largely uni-directional, acting as a sink for data definitions etc., but having no "active" componentry that feeds back to the consuming applications.

The upshot is there is a need for a continuous investment in maintenance. However, those situations showing the criticality of metadata are those where the systems are changing - modernizations, migrations to ERP, MDM implementations. In essence, these are the places where the current system is being trashed and the data needs to move to a new system.

This is a true conundrum - there is a need to maintain the metadata (and a corresponding investment) while the systems are in use in preparation for their retirement. While the systems are in production, the metadata is not in great demand (since things are typically not going to change too much). This lowers the perceived priority of metadata management.

You do need it when you are changing things. Therefore you are going to not just throw out the existing system, but its reliance on the existing documented metadata. Therefore, the return is limited because you have invested a huge effort in maintaining something you about to retire. But I do need metadata when I am going to migrate data so I know what I have to work with.

And yet, metadata management is an indicator of good data management practices, and is likely to coincide with good system development and maintenance practices, lowering the need for system modernization.

So metadata is needed usually when I don't have it and is not needed when I do have it.

On top of that, the effort to maintain discrete information about the thousands (if not tens of thousands) of data elements used across an organization is gargantuan, which also limits the utility of a metadata resource 9since it will take forever to collect all the information).

The answer has got to be somewhere in between - "just enough metadata" to support existing application needs (for improvements and upgrades to functionality) and enough to support the processes needed to retire the applications and design their replacements.

Anyone have any experiences that can support this view? Post them!

Posted September 15, 2009 7:53 AM
Permalink | 1 Comment |

An interesting article about people leaving facebook caught my eye because it resonated with some of the same issues I have had with it - inspired nosiness, misrepresentations of the concept of a friend (vs. connection), the way some people become obsessed and absorbed into it, and other observations.

After I had signed up (prodded by an old friend with whom I had fallen out of touch), I started to see others from my (growingly hazy view of the) past contact me asking to be connected. I guess I just said yes, and ended up with some connections, which led to other requests, etc.

So facebook is a little different than my other social network, linkedin.com, which is valuable to me as a business tool. Facebook does not provide that value, although it is interesting to see what people I used to know a long time ago are doing (hmm, a little nosy there, eh?).

The problem is that there are reasons that I stopped being in touch with a lot of former acquaintences, and getting back in touch with people that I no longer have much in common with is interesting at first but benign moving forward. And despite the few situations in which I am connectede with someone I regret losing touch with, it makes me have to actively ignore people that I have been able to passively ignore for a good twenty years or so.

On the other hand, there are some folks (like my friend Jeremy Epstein) who are building careers out of exploiting social marketing, and from an information perspective, there seems to be a lot of opportunity (check out Stephen Baker's book Numerati for some good examples as well).

I am interested - what is your experience with Facebook - as a connectivity tool, as a business tool, as an entertainment forum? post your comments!

Posted September 3, 2009 10:03 AM
Permalink | 4 Comments |

One place I like to frequent has adopted a green, eco-friendly attitude, and has started to transition to using paper goods that are described as being good for the environment. Apparently, their coffee cups are manufactured using recycled paper and are designed for rapid biodegradability.

So rapid, in fact, that the cups begins to biodegrade with your coffee still in it. Apparently, if you don't drink your coffee fast enough, it starts to seep out along the seam of the cup, and I have actually seen puddles of coffee growing under a cup.

Because of this, people have started to use *two* cups instead of just one cup, the outer cup to catch the coffee leaking out of th einner cup. In other words, providing a "green alternative" cup increases the tendency to use twice as much paper, a result that is probably the opposite of what they are attempting to achieve.

This is, in fact, a good example where attempting to optimize for one desired objective (biodegradability) leads to pessimization along other desired objectives (paper use).

Posted September 1, 2009 2:49 PM
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