Datafication (1)

A picture of Matthew Maury shared by Wikipedia.

A few weeks ago, a friend was asked to present about datafication in performance analysis. This set me off thinking about the processes I had heard about and seen.

I started off revisiting Viktor Mayer-Schonberger and Kenneth Cukier’s 2013 book Big data: A revolution that will transform how we live, work, and think (link). In it they discussed at length Matthew Maury‘s career in the U.S. Navy’s Depot of Charts and Instruments. In their words “He saw patterns everywhere”. They added (2013:75) “He had a number of ‘computers’ – the job title of those who calculated data. He aggregated data. He looked for patterns and more efficient routes and sea-lanes.”

I liked their consideration of data in the light of Matthew’s journey all those years ago. They noted:

  • He was among the first to realise that “there is a special value in a huge corpus of data that is lacking in smaller amounts – a core tenet of big data”.
  • Astounding that it was done with pencil and paper and highlights “the degree to which the use of data predates digitization”.
  • Data refers to “a description of something that allows it to be recorded, analyzed, and reorganized”.
  • To datafy a phenomenon is “to put it in a quantified format so that it can be tabulated and analyzed”.
  • We built the building blocks for datafication many centuries before the dawn of the digital age.
A picture of Henry Chadwick shared by Simon Eaves in 2017

I thought this account resonated powerfully with Simon Eaves’ accounts (2015, link; 2017a, link; 2017b, link) of Henry Chadwick (link) and baseball. Both are stories of digital pioneers. Simon notes that perhaps as early as 1858, Henry tried to record and analyse as “a first step towards a sport performance analysis to assess relative merits”.

I do think reading these authors about Matthew and Henry together gives real feel for what was occurring in the nineteenth century in the United States of America … at the dawn of what has been a remarkable process.

I hope to write more about this process and provide more background to datafication as the centuries pass by.

Photo Credits

Matthew Maury (Wikipedia, link)

Henry Chadwick (Simon Eaves, 2017b (link))

My Project

Back in June 2008, I started writing this WordPress blog (link). I had written on other blogs before and had first dipped my toes with Geocities in the late 1990s.

In 2008, I was emboldened by CCK08 (link) to explore thoughts openly about learning in a digital world. I had not considered that what I wrote would be of interest to any other reader. It was framed by the delight of thinking out loud.

This delight in thinking out loud led me to explore many ways to share openly through emerging cloud resources. Many of these accounts remain and include wikis, talks, slides, documents and data. I was even naive enough to start Facebook pages for some of my units.

Another preoccupation of mine has been the linking of ideas about learning, coaching and performing enriched by my formative experiences of social sciences, teacher education, human movement studies, performance analysis and analytics. This has led me to think deeply about how ideas are formed in social contexts. Many of my posts are about how performance analysts and their collaborators emerged at particular times and particular places and constructed knowledge.

My blog at Clyde Street continues to be my platform for this sharing. I hope to add many more posts to the 1800 produced already. My new guide is the R community that is providing exciting ways to share openly and my old guide, the ever inspiring, Stephen Downes (link).

It has been fascinating how this project has emerged and changed.

Photo Credit

Blue sky thinking (Keith Lyons, CC BY 4.0)

Microcontent: triads, facilitators and a micro-campus

Distant view

Stephen Downes (link) has been exploring microlearning in some of his recent newsletter postings.

Today he has linked to a Paul Greatrix post about the concept of a micro-campus connected to tertiary education’s outreach plans (link).

Stephen points out that in an earlier iteration of this discussion, Stephen himself has considered a triad model to explore this move to a facilitation of learning by a course broker (link).

In my particular area of interest, sport, I see enormous opportunities for co-operation and collaboration in this space. There are so many shared interests in designing and facilitating microlearning to a burgeoning sport ‘industry’ with the learner deciding ‘why?’, ‘when?’, ‘what?’ and ‘how?’

Photo Credit

Giovanni Corti on Unsplash