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Analyze The Data You Don't Have

You need to consider the data that you don't have, and the things that you don't know. Sometimes it is enough just to know that there is something that you don't know, other times it's necessary to figure how to unlock the hidden data.

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Written by on March 27, 2012

If you want to be successful in the new media world, there is one thing that you always need to do before you make a decision. You need to look at the data that you don't have, and analyze the things that you don't know.

Failing to do so, is actually one of the main reasons why most social media studies are completely worthless. They only look at the data they can see, and based on that they draw a conclusion that they have no basis to make.

I know how this sounds. How can you analyze data that you don't have? How can you make a decision based on something you don't know? Isn't that impossible?

Well, no. It is actually much easier than you might think. But before I get to that, let me illustrate the problem.

I was recently watching a talk by Dr Neil DeGrasse Tyson that he gave a couple of years back. It is a long (and funny) talk about all kinds of things, but part of it was about math illiteracy. For instance, when a reporter says that "more than 50% are below average"...Mmmm...

But he gave another example, which I just love because it's very similar to what we see in many new media studies (and infographics). It goes like this: "80 percent of airplane crash survivors had studied the locations of the exit doors upon takeoff"

A survey company has apparently contacted a group of airplane crash survivors and asked them this question, and the result seems to be remarkable. It was 80% of those who survived.

So what conclusions can you make? Many will say that studying the exit locations will improve your chance of surviving a crash, right? That's what people think when they see this data. It was 80% of those who survived!

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Thomas Baekdal

Thomas Baekdal

Founder of Baekdal, author, writer, strategic consultant, and new media advocate.

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