Who generates data?

Today, almost everyone is generating data. Take a few minutes to discuss with your class specific examples of data that is gathered every day. Some examples include: medical and health care records, data collected from scientific experiments, financial transactions (specifically, electronic and credit card transactions), internet browsing habits, cars going through a tollbooth, number of visitors on a website, purchases made by customers using a store’s preferred customer card, images recorded by security cameras, your locations via a smartphone, and much more. Ask students to add to this list and to come up with some specific scenarios in which the data might be used.  

Data collected has many forms and formats: text, numbers, webpages, images, videos, audio files, and natural language files. Different data forms are represented internally in different ways. Discuss as a class where the different forms of data arise.  Ask your students to come up with an example situation in which each type of data might be useful.

Student Activity

Amazon is a large company that mostly operates online. Discuss the following:

  1. What kinds of data do you think Amazon gathers about a particular user?
  2. What kinds of data do you think Amazon keeps track of overall from day to day?
  3. How do you think the data from (1) and (2) are used?
  4. What are some challenges to managing the data you discussed in questions (1) and (2)?
  5. Write down a question Amazon might want to answer using the data they gather either overall or about a specific user.