This past week, I’ve been walking in town carrying a baby doll. Multiple times. 99% of the time this would be odd behaviour and make people comment. Except it was during school drop off time and I was walking from a primary school back to the car park. In that light, it is completely normal behaviour.
Context matters. It helps us understand what we see or read.
The same is true about data. Its context matters. When we strip away all information about the context in which it was collected we lose meaning. And yet, this happens all the time. We compare numbers like they were equal. A 1% infection rate in a sparsely populated geographically large area is quite different than in a dense, urban block. But beyond this, data context can be more subtle. It may be common knowledge to the local researcher and community about the soil on the other side of the tracks, so common, it is not captured in the data points. And then when that data is sent nationally that knowledge is lost and the data misinterpreted.
So yes, I was walking around with a baby doll in my arms after dropping the kids at the school gate. Who knows maybe next week will be a tiger or a panda.