The definition of “Data”
Data can be anything. Data is present for nearly every aspect of life if it is simply looked for. Describing people, analyzing rocks, even music has infinite amounts of data tied to it. Some people see data as strictly computer process-able (such as Schoch), but that leaves a whole range of study left untouched. To truly evaluate what data is, we cannot look from a strictly subjective standpoint; for example, in the music industry, top 20 charts are made by data collected from the objective view of the audience.
Data can be taken from multiple standards: objective, subjective, and a collaboration of the two. To continue looking at this from a musical standpoint, objective data would be the top 20 charts developed under the guidance of crazed fans and passionate listeners. The subjective end of that would be if the charts were made from the songs most purchased on music sites such as iTunes. The middle ground would be found mostly in the counting of something; you need to be careful when comparing count data because you may pin one album against another unfairly. If album ‘A’ only had 5 songs and album ‘B’ has 15, you can not compare the success of songs purchased off of a specific album.
Essentially, data is any kind of information which can be collected and interpreted. The data is not neccesaraily computer process-able or even numbers but it is collected and can be used to find some result. Being such an ambiguous term, people can find their own types of data and use it to answer nearly any question. So ask a question: whatever collection of information you need to answer it- that is data.