English is a baffling language. The plural of cow is cows, yet the plural of sheep is sheep. More than one mouse is mice, but more than one house isn’t hice. And although you can roll dice, if you only roll one, it is known as a die.
To confuse matter further, we often hear how ‘data is used’, when in fact many scientists remind us that the word ‘data’ is plural, and that the singular is datum.
With that in mind, we ask…
What are data?
For some people, ‘data’ is a factor to consider when choosing a smartphone plan. For others, the word stirs memories of the matter-of-fact android in Star Trek, or the gadget inventing whizz-kid in the 80’s cult film The Goonies. (Or is that just me?)
Sign up to FreshWater Watch, and you’ll receive a testing kit from us. You’ll use it to collect simple measurements – or data – about the nutrients found in streams, rivers and lakes near them. You then upload your data through a smartphone, or on our Website.
How do we use your data?
The kind of data that you collect is missing in most of the world, simply because scientists and Governments do not have the resources to collect data on such a large scale.
Each piece of data – or datum – that you upload adds to a bigger picture that we can use to identify the impact of human development, pollution and other impacts on our fresh water.
Your results will be analysed and shared with policy makers, and could help us to understand why certain aquatic species are dying out, or whether we should avoid drinking from certain waterbodies, or how we can work with businesses to improve their operations.
You say tomato
So we don’t mind whether you say ‘data is’ or ‘data are’. We don’t even mind if you pronounce it as dayta or dahta.
We just want to get as much of it as possible. A datum is good, but it becomes so much more powerful when it becomes data.
Over to you:
Help us get more data!
Collect data from your local waterbody at least three or four times a year.
Recruit your colleagues, or members of your special interest group as FreshWater Watchers
Next time: E is for Eighty litres of water in an orange
A is for Alien Invasions; B is for the Biggest!; C is for Crickets in your lunchbox; D is for Data. Or is it datum?; E is for Eighty Litres of Water in an Orange; F is for Ferruginous Pochard; G is for Going, Going, Gone?; H is for Heroes; I is for Industrial Revolution; J is for Jigsaw Puzzles; K is for (Everything including the) Kitchen Sink; L is for Life itself; M is for Microbeads; N is for Namedropping