Almost anything can qualify as data. Data can mean personal demographic or identifying data on an individual. It can also be gathered on individual and group purchasing practices, such as retail data or restaurant data. Data can also be gathered over social media, such as the number of likes or objects “liked” on Facebook, or data from Twitter or other social media platforms. Data can also be collected through reviews of products, services or entertainment. For example, people that watch a movie or film can provide data through ratings of the film. Box offices use data to see how many movie-goers viewed a particular film in a given weekend, and to compare weekends and trends in movie-going practices over time. Data are even collected through blogging websites. Oftentimes, bloggers that have a lot of followers or readers are able to monetize their blogs through advertisers who will use their blogs to advertise to the bloggers audience. That constitutes data as well.

Author Christoph Schoch defines data in the context of humanities according to Information Scientiest Luciano Floridi. Luciano Floridi defined data as the absence of uniformity, whether in the real world or in some symbolic system.(Schoch). Schoch discusses data in the humanities, and gives examples such as text in a book or manuscript, texts, languages and paintings. Some scholars have discussed the inadequacy of the term data, in favor of “capta”, which means that which is captured or gathered”. However, if we use the general definition of data, art and text would not classify in my opinion because they are already structured and already provide information. Schoch also describes “smart data” and big data. He describes big data as messy and unstructured and variable, while smart data is semi-structured or structured, clean and explicit.

I think that data when it is first gathered is quite messy. There may be a lot of “noise” in the data, missing values, questionable variables, variability in format, and could come from numerous different sources. However, data as it is defined is unstructured and has no meaning until it is put into context to be used for a specific purpose. This is the point where data becomes useful. There are many challenges to gathering data, especially in the humanities. The difficulty with geolocation, variability in theater data gathering methods, and lack of uniformity. However, it is necessary to continue to gather data to observe trends in various industries.