The Neutrality of Data
- “Data” – as the Latin plural of “datum”, neuter past participle of dare, “to give”, hence “something given” – is the lowest level of abstraction from which information and then knowledge are derived.
- People and computers collect data and impose patterns, which transforms information into knowledge.
- Words like “civilian”, “military”, “public”, “restricted”, etc. pp. only indicate who is responsible to act on the information, hence to whom it should be “given” to.
- “Data” is neutral.
Data “given” about an incidence has no indication about the authority1 transmitting, sharing or receiving. It is the task that determines the lead2 and whom data has “to be given” to.
History and present days have endless examples of various stakeholders coming in possession of valuable data that was vital for tasks of partners. In these cases the information – and the responsibility to act on it – was transferred for the benefit of all. However, when responsibility was or is taken, it does not release any actor from initiating own action and support.
“It’s better to give [a task] than to receive 3.”
© by Joachim Beckh
1 Some military units have limited oil fighting capabilities and assist civilian authorities in emergencies.
2 Common sense is the approach of who is tasked and equipped for a situation: e.g. any military asset is ill equipped for investigations on tax fraud or traffic control; vice versa police or border control vessels have no capability for naval warfare.
3 Cite from the Bible, Acts 20:35 (King James Version)