Take a JPEG image file and a CSV file. Which of these two is data? Is one of them more obviously data than the other? I think the key difference is the intent behind the data and its primary interpretation.
Our mental model of a dataset changes the way we ask questions. One aspect of that is the shape of the data (long or wide); an equally important issue is whether we think of the data as a collection of rows of numbers that we can aggregate bottom-up, or as a complete dataset that we can slice top-down to ask questions. [Read more…] about Row-Level Thinking vs. Cube Thinking