Everything’s Coming Up Data

Hello!

Since my last post, we have been learning about data, data and yes, you guessed it, data. In this post, I will be reflecting briefly on each class in turn.

This set of classes started by looking at data about data, or metadata. Metadata is a tool which can be employed for multiple purposes. It can be used to retrieve information resources, to display resources, to show who owns the item and how it can be accessed and used and also who has responsibility for the information resource. This class made me think about data in a completely different way as it expanded my definition of data and what can count as data.

We then went on to look at how data can be tamed. We learnt about different file formats that contain data, such as plain text data, HTML file and tabular data. I found this class to be the most challenging for me as we had to deal with a lot of new terms that I hadn’t previously come across.

Our next class was dedicated to searching for data. It made me think about the ways in which I search for data in my own time. Working in a university law library, I regularly have to employ my own search skills in order to find the correct resources, such as full-text cases, which can be particularly difficult if it’s an older case and the student doesn’t have the full citation. Which is why I do tend to fall back on Google quite often. The ease and simplicity of the search box definitely cuts down search time which is what the students are looking for. If you aren’t able to find the requested resource within a couple of minutes, their patience wears thin and they give up looking for it and just say they’ll use a different case. This class put the issue of searching for data into perspective and helped me reflect upon my own search experiences.

Finally, we looked at how to work with data, whether that be collecting, storing, cleaning, displaying or re-using data. Being a tad obsessed with organisation, this class really spoke to my need to have tidy, consistent information presented neatly and logically. Data cleaning is definitely something I’d like to look at in more detail.

During these past few weeks I’ve had to try to wrap my head around entirely new concepts that, I won’t lie, have made my brain hurt a little (or a lot). I’m not a particularly ‘techy’ person so hearing phrases like ‘API’ or ‘flat-file’ or ‘MARC’ immediately make me internally cringe. So, re-wiring my brain to understand these new ideas has been challenging but I think I’m getting there!

 Data word count: 18

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