Sunday, December 31, 2006

Hard, naked, and raw

Well, that post title ought to get me a few more search hits (though not likely from the audience I'm hoping for)...but I'm actually talking about data. I was watching the movie "An Inconvenient Truth" recently with Spanish subtitles turned on, and noticed that the expression "hard data" was translated as "informaciĆ³n desnuda", or literally "naked information". The Spanish version seems more illustrative when we're referring to unembellished fact; in English we also sometimes say "raw data". I'd never thought much about the meaning of "raw" in this instance, but perhaps it does not mean uncooked but rather unprocessed or in a natural state, as in "raw wool". We also have the expression "in the raw", which is synonymous with "naked".

Incidentally, having these Spanish subtitles on proved to be quite useful for Debby, our German exchange student. No, she doesn't speak Spanish, but---like everyone in the civilized world---she thinks in metric and Celsius, and she wouldn't have been able to make sense of the data (raw or otherwise) without the conveniently-displayed conversions.

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