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"Computers are useless"

Pablo Picasso was quoted as saying, “Computers are useless. They can only give you answers.” At this desk, we take that notion with more than a few grains of salt, as we’ve seen gigantic social changes driven by computerization. But the artist Picasso raises a telling point, suggesting that asking questions is the way to transformative endeavor.

Asking the creative questions is behind new approaches to data analytics. As we mentioned in our bit on  Big Data analytics,  it is calling for whole new sets of skills – ones garnered from not just the data side, but also from the development, team and applications specialists. We noted the smorgasbord of skills for which to be on the lookout: Clojure, Scala, Python, Hadoop, Java, R, Mathlab, Erlang, LISP, Cassandra and CouchDB.

A look at recent articles on data integration shows it takes multifarious shapes. In an expert Q&A, David Linthicum talks about emerging Web data services. In a brief tutorial on transmitting data, Wiliam Brodegen outlined some basic methods, including JSON, Google Protocol Buffers and XML. From JBoss World, our staff blogged about changes to Hibernate Persistence Engine functions that bring in forward for developers working in the latest version of J EE. On sister site, Joe McKendricks blogged about the use of a data layer for SOA, and your reporter looked at the dawning of the age of enterprise data mashups app stores.

At heart, the history of computing has always been about ever better data reporting and analytics. Maybe the first really sticky computer saying was “Garbage in – garbage out.” Let’s remember that Data Processing led to Information Processing which led to what is now called Information Technology. Maybe we are coming back to the beginning of things, with all the present emphasis on data analytics and complex event processing.

Thanks to Forrester’s Randy Hefner for the Picasso quote. Randy peppers his e-mails with an ever-changing series of great quotations that usually seem relevant to exactly what is going on.

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