Tonight the U.S., my adopted country, had its first of three presidential debates. It took mere seconds for the first facts and figures to be thrown down as weapons of verbal war. Both candidates claimed and counter-claimed. In the end, it was impossible to see through the cloud of sketchy statistical dust that surrounded both men.
But wait…aren’t we in a big data and real-time analytics age? That’s right. We are.
Conspicuously missing from the network coverage was the rigor that is such an easy thing everywhere else in our lives. The unemployment at this moment? It’s a published number. The amount of money lent and repaid on renewable energy versus Big Oil? We know those exact facts and figures.
The number of times each candidate strayed from the truth should be pretty easy to figure out. Why weren’t they running alongside the candidates like the myriad of data we get to see every Sunday in an NFL game?
The other football fans
We didn’t get analytics for the same reason that FIFA (the World Cup’s governing body) doesn’t allow instant replay or put a chip in the ball to know when a goal was scored. Because controversy and passion is good for business. Back in France, bars would go out of business if they weren’t the perfect place for people to argue every nuance of every football (soccer) match. News outlets likewise delight in the he-said/he-said of election data evasion, elongation, and elasticity.
There isn’t even a yellow card in presidential politics, so candidates stretch and spin, knowing that reward for a volley of bad data is greater than the punishment for getting caught in a bald-faced prevarication. When your passion is in big data and real-time analytics, it can be a bit unsettling to watch.