Posts tagged ‘structure’

What We Talk About When We Talk About Structured Data (Part 3)

In this post, the final attempt at making structured data make sense in our daily lives, we’re going to examine one last way that we use structured data. Part one was about baseball, and how statistics are captured and presented to followers of the sport. Part two focused on baking, and how synoptic reporting can find the most concise way of presenting the record of a particular event. So what is this final part of the trilogy about? Is it a synthesis of these Baseball and Baking? Baseking? Bakeball?

Best of Both Worlds

Sorry, David Wells, but I’m going with another All-American past time. Let’s jump in the car and hit the open road as we talk about driving directions!

Was it ever established why the fish don't fry in the kitchen?

We’ve all received those invitations for some event with the directions appearing in large block paragraphs. It looks more like a riddle to be solved than steps to get from here to there. Here’s an example of directions presented in a paragraph form, this one showing how to get from our mTuitive offices to MGM Grand at Foxwoods:

From mTuitive office, drive on Old Stage Road towards Route 6W. Stay on RT 6W as it merges with/becomes MA-25W and then I-195W until you reach the exit for I-95 South (to New York). Take I-95 South to Exit 92 in Connecticut. Go straight at the stoplight. At the next stoplight, turn right onto Route 2 West for eight miles. Take the Foxwoods Blvd / Ledyard Center exit. At the bottom of the exit bear right and take a left at the third light to arrive at the MGM Grand.


Again, it lays out everything perfectly fine, and if I were to follow them, I would be able to adequately go from work to losing all of my money at the craps table.

You Hustlin' Me, Boy?


Another way of viewing these directions is using the format one gets from a GPS device or from Google Maps. (more…)

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August 24, 2010 at 2:17 pm Leave a comment

What We Talk About When We Talk About Structured Data (Part 2)

In Part One of my attempt at bringing Structured Data from the lofty heights of rhetoric and down into the every day real world, I used America’s favorite 3 hours of intermittent action – Baseball!

I suggest a new strategy, R2: let the Wookiee win.

It was a good, illustrative example of structured data – however, it was a bit impractical. Not many people conduct baseball research using data collected by statisticians. Structured Data may still seem foreign to those not interested in mapping how badly the Red Sox will break your heart this season using metrics and regressions. So let’s get even more grounded and practical – and in doing so, we’ll also examine synoptic reporting, a term that tends to accompany structured data but is not a synonym. So let’s see how we utilize structured data on a near daily basis. Let’s all head to the kitchen!

Last Known Photo of the Inventor of the Double Down


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August 20, 2010 at 2:46 pm Leave a comment

What We Talk About When We Talk About Structured Data (part 1)

Still trying to find that needle...

Sometimes it feels like my job wholly consists of talking about structured data. I give definitions and abstract examples – but it’s not easy to help people understand the real benefits of it. And so, as I try to find the best way to get my point across, I often think of real world examples of how structured data is useful in our daily lives and why it tends to be preferable to unstructured, narrative text.

With that in mind – let’s go out to the ball park!

THAT's the Chicago way!

Baseball. America’s Past Time. The Sweet Science. City of Lights. The Ghost and the darkness.

Okay, I’m not the biggest baseball fan. I will watch playoffs and world series. But I do know that a lot of baseball is about numbers: strike outs, home runs, bases stolen, RBIs, wins, losses, saves, ERAs, pitches thrown. Each of these play a crucial factor in determining how well your team is doing or how a player is perceived by his fans. And, following theories like those laid out in Moneyball, these metrics can even determine who will be signed on to your favorite team.

So what does this have to do with structured data? Glad you asked!
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August 18, 2010 at 3:59 pm 2 comments

Common Language: The Rise of Standard Formatting for Surgical Reports

Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz

Gottfried Leibniz. That name doesn’t mean much to most people, outside of math nerds with a penchant for historical trivia. Leibniz is credited with simultaneously creating calculus at the same time of Sir Isaac Newton. Years of debate ensnared the scientific community as patriotic mathematicians of Germany and Britain argued for their respective countrymen. Each camp tried to prove the independent, solitary insight needed to develop calculus solely rested with one man or the other – but were unable to find definitive proof that Newton or Leibniz had been the one to originally conceive of this new field of mathematics. There are suggestions that Leibniz was inspired by some of Newton’s works but, as there’s still too many gaps in the works of Newton that would have been available for Leibniz to consult in order to develop calculus, there’s no substantial proof that Leibniz plagiarized Newton’s work.

Rob's attempt to innovate calculus was met with much less enthusiasm

So what happened then? Perhaps this is an example of Rupert Sheldrake’s pseudo-scientific theory of “morphic resonance” in which behavior is somehow transported across great geographical distances between similar types of animals or people. And while it is always interesting and neat to consider such a possibility – an example of some innate telepathic or cultural osmosis that seems to exist on a cellular level between people – it’s rather unlikely. How, then, did this rise of a new way of thinking occur at the same time in two different places? How were two men able to discover the same mathematical principles without being in collaboration? And what does any of this have to do with surgical reporting?

To put it simply – great minds think alike. The fact of the matter is that both Newton and Leibniz recognized a need for something in the world – in this case, the lack of a particular mathematics field that could be applied to many facets of our lives and used to explain so much of what we don’t understand. It is this same ability for multiple people, unrelated and independent of one another, to see the writing on the wall in the medical community and recognize the absolute need and demand for standardized and structured surgical reporting.
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June 23, 2010 at 10:22 am Leave a comment


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