Why I’m Doing This…..

f1615_data_mining.jpgWhen people learn that I am back in school, those that are genuinely interested want to know what I’m studying. Most begin to lose interest once I mention calculus (the single dirtiest word in academe), statistics, and computer science. For those few brave friends and acquaintances that really want to know, the next question is generally of the form, “What is Discovery Informatics?”. And, you know, I struggle to answer in a pithy, cogent way that describes a discipline that doesn’t yet “own” a universally accepted description. Even in our introductory class our professor began by telling us that there is not yet a common definition of the discipline. Which makes it kind of neat to be on the front edge of a process that is so intimately connected with society and technology and the future.

But, sometimes, examples help explain the process. Here is a little something that paints a picture of what part of Discovery Informatics might be…..

Bon-Ton stores recently mined 10 million customer records from its clothing stores nationwide and pulled a sample set of 100 million transactions. From that, it analyzed 200 separate factors, including what types of products customers bought, the associations between products in their shopping carts, and how many discounted products they purchased. The reason for all this data crunching: to create a model for direct-mail campaigns that could better predict which customers are likely to shop at a Bon-Ton store in the next 30 days.

Follow the link for more. Good stuff…..

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“Life’s hard, son. It’s harder when you’re stupid.” — The Duke.

Education is a companion which no misfortune can depress, no crime can destroy, no enemy can alienate,no despotism can enslave. At home, a friend, abroad, an introduction, in solitude a solace and in society an ornament.It chastens vice, it guides virtue, it gives at once grace and government to genius. Without it, what is man? A splendid slave, a reasoning savage. - Joseph Addison
The term informavore (also spelled informivore) characterizes an organism that consumes information. It is meant to be a description of human behavior in modern information society, in comparison to omnivore, as a description of humans consuming food. George A. Miller [1] coined the term in 1983 as an analogy to how organisms survive by consuming negative entropy (as suggested by Erwin Schrödinger [2]). Miller states, "Just as the body survives by ingesting negative entropy, so the mind survives by ingesting information. In a very general sense, all higher organisms are informavores." - Wikipedia

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