Data = Money

euro notes

It has often been said, written, blogged and tweeted that data itself is useless. It is all about information.

Indeed. In the same way money itself is worthless. It is all about all the good stuff you can buy for money.

So, if you care about money, you should care about data too.

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8 thoughts on “Data = Money

  1. John O'Gorman 27th October 2014 / 20:43


    The relationship that information has to data vs stuff has to money is not quite the same. I capture information to turn it into data…theoretically (unless you chucked your data into a bottomless pit) you can retrieve data, add value (more information) to it and save it again as doubly-enhanced information (call it ‘valuable’). The idea that ‘data has no value’ is clearly not true.

    On the other hand if I trade my hard-earned money for stuff, rarely can I transform that stuff back into money, You could say that in many cases (the exception being wine and other stuff that sometimes increases in value just by getting old) the value spiral is downhill.

  2. Richard Branch 27th October 2014 / 21:24

    John, without getting into a deep and meaningful discussion about Keynesian economics and the theory of spiral inflation, I can see exactly where Henrik may have been coming from. For example, I use money to buy materials (stuff) manufacture something using my skills (adding value) and sell it (i.e. transform it back) for more money. So I would have to disagree with you, furthermore wine is probably the worst example if your house is anything like mine the stuff doesn’t hang around ling enough to ever in crease in value. 😉

    • John O'Gorman 27th October 2014 / 21:38

      Our house is exactly like your house WRT wine longevity – well played!

      I want to pick up on your manufacturing angle, though, ’cause I think it proves the point. If all we ever did was capture information to store as data then Henrik would be correct in every aspect. But, as you point out, we don’t: it’s a cycle that increases in value (theoretically) until we top out at the peak.

      Like all other respresentations of value, saying money (and therefore data) has no value is again, as you say, a philosophical assertion which is interesting but almost universally thought to be incorrect. In most people’s minds, money has value. Data has value precisely because it is captured information.

  3. Henrik Liliendahl Sørensen 27th October 2014 / 22:10

    Thanks John and Richard for extending and slamming the metaphor.

    About wine I see this good stuff as a Fast Moving Consumer Good too 🙂

    Property will be something else you can buy and usually not see decrease in value over time.

    Analogies between data management and manufacturing are indeed an often-disputed subject too.

    • John O'Gorman 28th October 2014 / 17:05

      Henrik – you mean ‘slamming’ in a good way, right?

      BTW: You are correct about the data management / manufacturing analogy…a better one is energy management.

      • Henrik Liliendahl Sørensen 1st November 2014 / 09:43

        Thanks again John and yes indeed, slamming comments are some of the most welcomed ones.

  4. Pontus Gagge 28th October 2014 / 14:23

    I’ve been amused by another similarity: data (as well as information) is, like money, an incredibly abstract notion. You don’t have to talk to an economist for long to realize that nobody really understands money in all its fascinating complexities. Is it worth something? Maybe. Insofar as other people share that belief. If not, we get major crises like hyperinflation and bank runs. In the financial sphere, we operate by expectation and rules of thumb, not by deeper understanding and modelling of the beliefs and utility functions of millions of economic actors.

    The main difference? Money has been important to humankind since the first cities and civilizations started appearing some four millennia ago. Thus, most of us believe we understand how money works. Data and information, however, has not yet been a critical resource of a lot of organizations for more than decades at most. Thus we rarely if ever see chief information officers whose responsibilities actually match their title ranked equally with chief financial officers…

    • Henrik Liliendahl Sørensen 1st November 2014 / 09:46

      Thanks a lot for commenting Pontus. Good food for thought.

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