Data Information & Context [video]

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"The problem with big data is context. As the amount of data and data dimensions increases, and demands on systems increase, the only way to manage the challenges is to establish context. "

Data information and context are not the same thing

Context is information that is relevant, timely, and sharable.

The OODA Loop (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act) came out of air combat, and has a complete process, which looks like natural or biological processes. There are inputs, and the inputs feed into the Orient step which is filtering and analysis. When one has acted, then they need to go back and re-start the loop.

OODA loop is an interactive process of many-sided implicit cross-referencing projections empathies, correlations, and rejections." – John Boyd

Fighter planes – Start with the F4 Phantom II. This is a plane designed to be very fast and completely unmaneuverable, and all but impossible to operate. It's defined as "An airborne muscle car – fast in a straight line, primitive sensors, poor control design." Because of the demands of combat, this plane was simply a disaster.

John Boyd was a fighter pilot in Korea, and he developed several theories that fed into the F16 Fighting Falcon, which is smaller, gives better visibility, the seat is angled differently to safely operate at sustained 9G to allow the pilot to survive without losing consciousness. The controls are much easier to find and use. The control stick is placed better. The plane is still quite complicated, but at least it had a plan.

Unfortunately "at subsonic speeds, the fighter is constantly on the verge of going out of control." That doesn't sound good for an airplane. The advantages:

  • Extremely maneuverable
  • Advanced sensors
  • Human-centric controls

F35 Lightning II - Weighs 2x as much as the f16, and has much less junk on the information panel. The pilot wears a head-mounted display. There is sensor fusion, which allows complete night vision in darkness.

  • Extremely maneuverable
  • Bristling with sensors
  • Sci-fi controls

For fighter pilots, context is LIFE OR DEATH!

So the context is: Do I have the right information when I need it? Is it relevant, timely, and sharable?

To apply the OODA Loop to technology operations, the stages are: (picture at 14:15)

  1. Observe (metrics, monitoring, alerting, alarming)
  2. Orient (analysis, visualization, correlation)
  3. Decide (planning, resourcing)
  4. Act (execution)

The keys here are:

  • The environment in which we operate.
  • The tools with which we observe that environment.
  • The means by which we influence it.

In summary, the OODA Loops is context, and it is dynamic. The problem with big data is context. As the amount of data and data dimensions increases, and demands on systems increase, the only way to manage the challenges is to establish context.

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