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Reflection on “Moving from Big Data to Big Wisdom”


Darin McKeever is Deputy Director, Charitable Sector, Global Policy & Advocacy, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. His comment here, Moving From Big Data To Big Wisdom (just published on the blog of  Skoll Foundation World Forum), throws a welcome spanner in the works with respect to the thought of a full on march into getting a handle on Big Data as part of upgrading the information infrastructure for the social sector. It turns out that data isn’t knowledge. We’ve quickly made that our own cautionary cliché by now; so, you’ve heard it before. But it bears a burning into the mind.

The telling word in the article for me, however, is “wisdom,” what we hope comes after knowledge. I was reminded of this while listening to a Buck Showalter interview yesterday as he commented on the explosion of modern baseball analytics (read: Moneyball).  To paraphrase: Buck noted that he welcomes all the data in the world and that he’s now well versed in the statistical methods that identify trends in the millions of baseball iterations. But, he says (also paraphrased), “I don’t ever want a kid to think I’m just managing him solely from the chart.” We could write one thousand more lines on the implications he makes with that statement. That is wisdom. Go to the link to read Darin’s perspective on how we might begin to accelerate along the continuum of data, information, knowledge, and, finally …wisdom.