Carbon, Data, and Pattern Recognition
Published: March 6, 2013
Author: Michael Yates
Our fundamental particles and atoms are in a perpetual state of movement, agitation, and decay. Elements have a half-life and so does the data that we manipulate and analyze on a day-to-day basis within our various digital marketing careers.
This shared property of entropic irrelevance, atomic decay within the periodic table, and relevancy and purity of data indicate that the shared properties of nature and man-made constructions are forever running parallel to each other. The only differentiator is the thickness and depth of the line. Our data is atomic expression on an entirely different scale of reality. Last-click actions, seasonal trends, and prediction models are marketing’s expression of the patterns; our ability to recognize them is a skill we’ve been developing for thousands of years. Being able to understand the mental processes of others is to understand what makes them who they are on various levels of zoom.
Geoffrey B. West, a member of the theoretical division at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, wrote in the abstract of the working paper A General Model for the Origin of Allometric Scaling Laws in Biology, concerning the model itself, “It provides a complete analysis of scaling relationships for mammalian circulatory systems in excellent agreement with data.”
What is interesting here is that he and his troupe are attempting to mathematically create a general model that can predict the most efficient routes that any biological system will create (through capillaries, etc.) to transmit essential materials. The study of mathematics, a man-made construct, is being used to express the intricacies of nature in a scalable and understandable way. In short, building blocks given agency and purpose will fill in the gaps themselves in relatively efficient patterns. Our data is patterns of behavior expressed through rare earth elements, silicon, and electricity. Atomically, elements are used to fill in the gaps present in our knowledge.
When we, as marketers, hear good news concerning the economic growth of our clients or of our respective countries, we pat each other on the back, shake hands, and generally feel successful exploiting patterns in behavior that maximize the benefit to our clients. Growth, as a pattern, is not simply expressed on quarterly charts but can be expressed as mimicry of the natural systems that have created our reality. Our man-made systems become scaled versions of our biological parentage, itself a scaled expression of the atomic origins of life. As our technology becomes more advanced, our natural inclination is to subconsciously mimic organic processes and integration.
You can see this in our most influential collective achievements: language and civilization. Major roadways are considered arteries, economic categories such as fishing are named the lifeblood of coastal cities, and communication lines are the nervous system. If we consider cities to be their own living organisms, we can consider the inhabitants as bundles of molecules acting of their own free will in relation to their surroundings, much as a blood cell travels through vessels surrounded by its brethren in purpose.
But how does this relate to what we do as marketers? Our man-made systems of tracking and data collection are not simply tracking the purchasing and browsing habits of customers. We are tracking a small fraction of individual expressions of elemental coagulation. People are made of their elements, and those elements are scaled versions of their fundamental origins. Big data, on first glance, is simply tracking large amounts of people’s habits at once.
What big data is providing us through Google, Apache Hadoop, and others is the ability to perceive patterns in data across giant swaths of humanity’s exponentially rippling interactions. Scaled upwards, we could begin the prediction of behavior with crucial accuracy. Scaled down, we can predict where exactly the next outcropping of tissue will grow. Expanding our depth of view, we see our systems of existence being influenced by the spin of a few electrons.
Our data is understanding our natural and physical patterns. From atom to civilization and from last-click to seasonality, we’re just tracking the pathways of a carbon-based existence.
– Michael Yates, Account Coordinator