We Don’t Have Perfect Information

I was discussing the PASS Summit with someone and they were wondering about building their schedule. Actually, they wanted to pick sessions, but see the choices in a calendar format, but the schedule wasn’t out. My suggestion was to just build the schedule and then sort out conflicts later.
A few people have mentioned over the years that they want to build a schedule and be ready for the event to maximize their experience and be efficient. I think that’s a common, normal, technical person thing to do. We’re Type-A, we like knowing and having a set schedule.
The problem is that we don’t have perfect information. Even if the descriptions and abstracts included perfect information about the agendas, what is covered, and to what depth, including demos, we’d still not necessarily assimilate and recognize all that data. We’d think a session on database design covered fourth normal form, even when the text said third normal, or we’d expect that an SSIS data load talk included something on CSVs when the presenter described the talk as being with flag text files.
We’re human, and that means we have flaws in how we deal with the world. This includes the ways in which we model and analyze data. While we can make mistakes in our analysis, we often may simplify our view of a problem to the point where our analysis is inherently flawed.
I try to remember this when I write reports from systems that others will use. I won’t have every piece of information that might affect a system, but I try to ensure I have the most important, or significant, data. At least, the data I (and the users) feel is significant. The important thing to remember is that out data is always incomplete, and it’s entirely possible that we have missed a valuable piece of data.
When that happens, we have to adapt and adjust our systems, just like our conference schedule. We’ll learn more across time and we can use that information to change our system. I know that my view of a conference like the PASS Summit today, or even a week before the event, will be different than what I know, and how I feel, at the event. I should have a plan, but be willing to flex as circumstances change.
Steve Jones

About way0utwest

Editor, SQLServerCentral
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