Sunday, August 06, 2006

Getting to the point

I now have a data point to put on my poster I’m doing for the conference at the end of the month. Correction. That should be a “datum” point, because there is only one. Datum. Singular. Some people like to use a datum point to make all sorts of extravagant extrapolations about life, the universe, the Hadean, and all sorts of other underconstrained systems. I prefer a more conservative approach. So what I’m thinking, for this poster, is just that. I will have the title, at the top. Then my name (Dr. Lemming), and my institution. No references, no introduction, no annoying blocks of text that nobody ever reads. Just a huge, meter by meter white space, with a single point in the middle. I’ll add the appropriate axes, properly labeled, of course, but because it is just one measurement, there isn’t really any way that I can include statistical errors. So it will just be a single point, suspended in a sea of meaningless white, devoid of context.

Interpretation is what universities hire academics to produce. I’m a techo. I just measure the datum.

3 comments:

yami mcmoots said...

I thought the idea behind "data point" was to render plurality irrelevant, since English adjectives don't have to agree with the nouns they modify? One datum, two data; one data point, two data points.

Lab Lemming said...

In that case, shouldn't it be "datum points?"

CJR said...

Well, the minimalist design will certainly stand out! Besides, I've seen enough posters where the pretty pictures, references etc. are specifically intended to hide the fact that no actual new data is being presented at all...