The Relationship Between Data and Experiences
Data itself is essentially anything observable; therefore, within every situation there is data available for individuals to collect. The interesting thing about data that isn’t typically realized is the fact that data comes in all shapes and forms, from numbers recorded in a survey to sensory perceptions that occur when one sees, hears, etc., something in the exterior world. Data is the basic building block of information, a structure definable as some kind of data that has been given meaning. Every instant poses the opportunity to collect and analyze a piece of data to transform it into usable information, which is essential to enhancing one’s understanding of an occurrence or experience. An experience is meaningless without the interaction between data itself and a person’s ability to comprehend and apply that data to future circumstances.
For example, in The Circle, Mae left her job at the utility company because she did not enjoy the experience of being faced with the fact that her abilities were starkly underrated in that particular environment (Eggers 11). The data she analyzed to come to this conclusion included the tasks required of an employee in her position as well as her own skill level, which she realized after weeks of exposure in that environment was much higher than was necessary to perform her work.
After college, Mae kept in touch with her good friend, Annie, who often related her own experiences at the Circle (Eggers 3). Annie’s conversations with Mae became the data, the evidence, for Mae’s desire to work with and gain the same career experiences as Annie.
Another way to interpret the relationship between data and experience is the inverse idea that experiences may lead to data. In the Circle’s society, employees are encouraged to participate in “community” activities such as posting thoughts, comments, and personal experiences on Zing, the Circle’s form of social media, for all the other community members to read and share (Eggers 96-98). Either through ignorance or indifference, the users of this kind of social media are subjecting this information, their experiences, to become part of the Circle’s extensive database which holds information on all the users of the Circle products.
This is proven when Mae’s profile is used as an example for Francis and Gus’ new project, LuvLuv (Eggers 122). Mae’s personal data, which had been posted voluntarily years before on other social networking sites, is directly available for cross-reference and analysis by the new application, whose purpose is to do such research on the intended subject (Eggers 122-124). By posting about various life events, Mae, and so many others in contemporary society, allow her experiences to become pieces of data that are subject to further analysis and sorting by exterior sources with access to the main databases (Eggers 123).
The relationship between data and experiences force the observer to consider the idea that data is not only essential to create an experience, but in some cases, experiences can also be considered very descriptive forms of data.