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From Cold Data to Warm Data


Warm Data are contextual and relational information about complex systems.In other words, warm data involve transcontextual information about the interrelationships that integrate a complex system, as well as interwoven complex systems.
Warm Data Lab

I wrote to a colleague yesterday. During a meeting he had asked about a research paper he had written with others. He was rightly worries about making general claims without making explicit the limitations of the work.

His question remained with me. Yesterday evening I spoke about it with my wife at the end of our dinner. About six months ago, she has participated in one of the Warm Data Lab trainings organised by Nora Bateson. The points she made during our conversation were inspired by the training she did with Nora.

Every piece of research has limitations. Every piece of research is like a sketch of a tiny part of the complex reality in which we live. As a sketch, it can only give a glimpse into the reality and systems that we observe and live in. These sketches help draw (or begin to draw) maps of reality, but, as Nora Bateson says, maps are not the territory.

Research findings are just data and information, they are not knowledge. As such they are cold data. To gain meaning and influence the systems they need to become warm data. To become warm data they need to become alive as part of the conversations with the people who are affected by the problems the research has identified. They have to become almost like the fuel of dialogues and of new links and relationships between individuals. Warm data help surface the hidden knowledge that people affected by the problems that we might research. Warm data can change systems because they become part for the web od co-developments of those systems and are part of our collective ability to perceive, discuss, and try to address complex issues. 

The journey continues.

Photo credit:  Sveta Fedarava on Unsplash

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