Behind every data point is a person

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While I admit without apology or remorse that I believe the data is beautiful, I would be remiss if I did not also acknowledge that it is malleable and does not always reflect the true human condition.

Whether a qualitative or quantitative analysis, the world of numbers, number crunching and an ever increasing and slightly disturbing trend in data mining I am reminded or more appropriately I must diligently remind myself that behind every number and every point on a correlational analysis or in the graceful arc of a bell curve resides a person.

I can think of no better platform upon which this is evident than that of the travel industry where I find the terms “trendy” and “trending” to be used interchangeably when in fact they reflect two very different lived experiences.

Numbers are both my life and my livelihood and in the name of full transparency they are also my friends as any ethical researcher and trend spotter must demand robust honesty from his numeric pals.

And therein lies the conundrum with travel. The analytics are out there and industry influencers utilize them as a means of branding, rebranding and moving the attention of the consumer towards what on the surface is simply data but with a slight scratch beneath this veneer is savvy marketing.

Wanderlust is a very powerful force and with millions of Americans traveling across the street, across the country and across continents I can’t help but wonder beyond the data what this all really means.


Photo Credit: Josh Estrin

 To say the world is not a simple place would be an understatement. The mere act of getting from one end of a day to another can be arduous at best; and that is what I believe is the most important variable in the travel algorithm.

Travel is a way to escape and there is so much we can learn from travel, so much we can gain from authentic interaction with cultures that differ from our own and yet I have to wonder are we running from something are running towards something? Do we know enough about who we are and where we fit into our own world on our own soil to take on the global community?

Clearly, this may not be a popular view and certainly the travel industry would much rather support our curiosity for far-off lands rather than challenging us to take the time to explore the very personal space we presently occupy.

Consume all the trends, trendy photos, Social Media and everything and anything related to travel that brings you joy. Book a trip around the world and visit each line on your personal Bucket List but do it for you, do it as a means of embracing the global community and not as an excuse to avoid creating your own sense of community on your home turf.

Data is beautiful and trends are in fact a reflection not only of the Social Scientist but also of the lived experience. Numbers speak volumes when we truly listen so allow them to guide you authentically and embrace them as you travel on the unprecedented journey we have all come to know as life.

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