Tartle Best Data Marketplace
Tartle Best Data Marketplace
Tartle Best Data Marketplace
Tartle Best Data Marketplace
Tartle Best Data Marketplace
Tartle Best Data Marketplace

As long as you are alive, you are constantly creating data—and in today’s digital age, it has become more important than ever before to know how to harness the power of your own data.. The question now is, how is data exchanged? How do companies obtain data?

Through the TARTLE Marketplace, everyone is able to exchange data. Even better, people are financially incentivized to sell their data to sellers. Buyers can also purchase specific data packets, from medical to financial data.

In this episode, join Alexander McCaig and Jason Rigby as they discuss the value of data, and what it means to share private information. They will also be listening to David Sinclair and Lex Fridman’s opinions on harnessing big data.

Taking Ownership of Your Data

Most people nowadays use the internet in their everyday lives. Since everyone is almost always plugged into the digital world, it’s no surprise that everyone’s data is up for grabs as well. There are plenty of third-party sites accessing our personal data and this complex web of interactions makes it near impossible to scrub our data off of the internet.

While it is difficult to find solutions to all the data ownership problems that we’ve run into on the internet, TARTLE does make it possible for individuals to become more informed and responsible about their own data. Through the platform, you have the capacity to share and sell your data. You also have the right to erase any of your unsold data whenever you want.

Assets and Liabilities within The TARTLE Marketplace

When it comes to data exchange, security and privacy are top priorities. Fortunately, TARTLE has a completely self-sovereign architecture for every person. That means that nothing gets leaked, as the passwords and other related information are only known to their respective owners. 

This is especially important for companies who want to purchase data from TARTLE. When a privacy issue arises, these companies do not want the liability of a data breach, nor do they want to get sued by their clients and those who sold their data.

Additionally, purchasing data through TARTLE can be seen as a verifier that the data was acquired ethically. TARTLE obtains data with consent from its respective owners while paying them, and gives them the power to choose how their data is used.

Ensuring Data Privacy and Accountability

One of the most common concerns when it comes to sharing any kind of information online, regardless of whether it is related to our personal health or medical records, is whether it will be safe and secure once it is uploaded to another platform. When people feel that their data may end up being permanently stored on the internet, or that they do not have control over their own information, then they will naturally stop feeling the incentive to share.

A part of the hesitation to share personal data stems from the reality that we do not feel like we have control over it in the first place. Another common reason could be attributed to the misperception that if we have any ailments or illnesses, it is because we do not take care of our health.

Sharing valuable and relevant information is key to helping improve the lives of everybody. There is nothing to be embarrassed about. Not your medical records, nor anything else. Every single one of us is a human being, and we are all learning from each other.

How do we encourage people to be more proactive about sharing their information?

Closing Thoughts: A Safe Space for Medical Records

The TARTLE platform gives people an opportunity to experience the benefits of sharing data in multiple ways. First, it encourages individuals to be more empowered about their own information. They no longer have to feel like they are victims of their own data.

Second, TARTLE provides a safe space for people to learn how to control their information. The marketplace does not profit from the data gathering in any way. Its main goal is to be of benefit to humanity by giving people the tools to become more self-aware and responsible.

Finally, the marketplace gives the people on the ground an opportunity to directly connect to causes, organizations, and businesses that they resonate with the most. In the status quo, one may need to go through multiple levels of red tape before they can participate in a certain cause. With TARTLE, they have the opportunity to directly express their support by selling data packets. It is similar to giving these movements a part of themselves.

What’s your data worth?

Critically Thinking Through Data

Critical thinking is hard. No, really. It takes patience, dedication, and a degree of humility that is hard to maintain. Some people think that if you think critically, you will automatically agree with them. Others think that critical thinking means uncritically rejecting whatever your parents and grandparents taught you. Neither will ever put it quite that way but if you pay close attention to what is said by some, those conclusions are hard to avoid. Not that you should take my word for it. If you were paying attention, you might have caught that I did a little bit of the first – assuming that people thinking critically will agree with me. See? It’s hard to avoid the traps even when you’re writing about them. 

So, what really is critical thinking and how does one do it? Thinking critically means being willing to take the time to understand something as thoroughly as possible before reaching a strong conclusion about it. To be willing to take a look at different points of view and weigh them against each other. It’s more complicated than hearing the two main sides of an issue and then assuming the truth is somewhere in the middle. It’s more complicated because the truth may be in between, but how far is one side or the other? Or one side might be completely wrong. Or the truth might be something neither side has even considered. I told you this is hard. 

How does one begin? As with a lot of things, mindset is everything. You need to realize that you will likely never know every single thing about any one thing. Aquinas once said humanity has yet to discern the essence of a single gnat. Nothing has changed in the eight centuries since he wrote that. We know more, but not everything. If that sounds depressing, it shouldn’t. It means there is always more to learn. 

Start small, with a subject that already interests you and pick up a book that catches your eye. And yes, a real book if you can, something you can highlight and make notes in the margins. Don’t try to power through and crush out the page count. Save that kind of reading for fiction. Yes, there are different kinds of reading. That fact and much of the method I’m about to lay out are in How to Read a Book by Mortimer Adler.

In any case, take your time and read through it, making notes as you go. Pay attention to others the author cites and get their books, and do the same with them. With each book, take the time to learn the author’s voice, how he thinks, what his own presuppositions seem to be. Then be willing to correct your conclusions when you realize you got something wrong. Don’t forget to pick up one or more works that contradict the author, whether he cites them or not. Every now and then the lone voice crying in the wilderness is saying something you should be paying attention to. Remember, it was once the consensus in certain circles that no planets existed outside the solar system, or that eugenics makes total sense and you should totally cure people by cutting them so the evil humors could escape. It’s usually worth listening to the person challenging the consensus. Even if he proves to be off his rocker, just kicking the apple cart can get some new and productive thoughts going. 

Doing all of that will actually just get you started thinking truly critically. After taking in all that data, you need to sift and weigh it, looking up additional information to fill in holes you’ll find as you go along. 

All data analysis needs to be approached with a similar level of patience and humility. How many companies when they collect marketing data run it through different analytical models to see if they line up? Or have multiple people look at the data? How many organizations have people whose whole job is to check different analyses against each other to see if it all adds up? The answer is sadly few.

What’s your data worth? www.tartle.co

Data is the Gold Standard

Gold has been the standard for monetary value for millennia. Ever since humanity realized it likes shiny rocks (relax, I know it’s a metal) gold has been highly desired and sought after. More than a few people have been killed because they had it and someone else wanted it. In one of the more distressing attempts to get out of the Great Depression FDR actually ordered the confiscation of privately held gold, sending agents to people’s homes and offering them the ‘fair compensation’ of fiat currency. 

Interestingly, it doesn’t even change value much. An ounce of gold today can buy pretty much what an ounce of gold could buy fifty years ago. However, it has a much larger dollar value attached. What that tells you is that one green piece of paper is worth a whole lot less than it was fifty years ago. 

There are of course things more valuable than gold. Platinum is a precious metal that is rarer and more valuable as a rule. Bitcoin is argued by many to be more valuable than gold, at least in the modern age. Should we ever get the EMP apocalypse that would probably change. However, there is one thing that is definitely worth more than all of those, and arguably has always been, and that would be data. Good old-fashioned information, the currency of kings, robber-barons, politicians, and tech lords around the world. 

A piece of information can alter the fate of empires, or make the difference between a massive profit or going out of business. That’s why today businesses and governments spend billions, if not trillions collectively to gather as much information on you and me as they possibly can. That’s why there are so many apps that want permissions to every bit of info on your phone, or there is so much info tied up in a simple digital photo. It’s also why there are cameras everywhere. Sure, at the beginning they were probably put in strictly with the idea of improving security and catching criminals. Then it became about tracking traffic, both foot and car. But there is a mission creep. The local government or the particular business you are in can now use those cameras to track your movements, who you talk to, what kind of clothing you like to wear and when. 

What one might consider to be particularly galling is the fact that not only is all the data gathered without your actual consent, it’s done often without your knowledge and then it is kept from you. Even better, the means of acquiring information are kept from you. Not so much the knowledge of the means (though in some cases that is true) but the means themselves. After all, you can’t exactly get a hold of those street cameras for your own purposes. 

Then of course, there are the satellites. Oh yeah, if you don’t like location data and street cameras, you will absolutely hate satellites. Those things can seriously read your license plate from space. They have far more resolution than you can get from Google Earth where the average person is limited to what you can see from around 150ft. Just imagine how much data the government, and the mega-corps that can afford to pay the fees to access the higher resolutions can get from those. 

Not that I want my neighbor having access to that information either. What I would like is not having companies and my government spying on me, even for the ‘common good’. That’s why TARTLE is so important. We are at the forefront of a movement to regain control of our data. That starts with people signing up and protecting their data with us and deciding whether or not you share it on your terms. But that, as they say, is just the beginning. 

What’s your data worth?

Chicken of the Sea

There are nearly 8 billion people on the planet. And those 8 billion people need to eat. And especially in the developed nations they eat a lot. That means that companies are constantly looking for new and abundant food sources to supply the ever increasing need for food. One of those sources is the skipjack tuna.

This particular breed of tuna is insanely abundant and they breed quickly. How quickly? Instead of the chicken of the sea, you could reasonably call them the rabbits of the sea. They are able to breed young and year round, that means that their population is able to replenish itself very quickly. Given that some of the species’ predators, like certain kinds of sharks, have entered the endangered species list, fishing them might actually be helping control them and preventing them from forcing out other species. Yet, given the increased demand for tuna, that might not be the case for much longer. 

Sadly, that is the way things typically progress. We push on one specific source until it is threatened and then move onto another until we finally learn to manage the source in a responsible way. Think of how bison were hunted nearly to extinction as America expanded into the West. Much like the skipjack is currently, their supply seemed to be infinite. Obviously, we learned that was not the case, but barely in time to save the species. 

Then there is the way the tuna are harvested. Once upon a time, the way they and most other fish were pulled from the ocean was little different from the way your grandpa pulled trout out of the river. The poles were just bigger and the lines stronger but the principles were the same. However, what has happened is that fisheries have adopted a fancy form of net fishing (also an old form of fishing that has been around for thousands of years) called purse seine fishing. Rather than simply dipping or dragging a net from a ship and seeing what comes up, this method involves massive nets that are actually secured at the bottom so the fish can’t escape. It’s very efficient. It is also indiscriminate in what it catches. There are literally tons of other fish and aquatic mammals that are caught in these fancy nets, including various endangered species of dolphins and some of the sharks that prey on the tuna (yes, controlling the skipjack population by fishing them is fixing a problem we’ve helped create in the first place). 

It would certainly be better for the dolphins, sharks, and whatever else gets unintentionally caught in those nets if we went back to the more discriminate pole and line fishing method. Of course, given that the method is less efficient, it would no doubt raise the price of tuna in the store, which means it might not be the go to option when funds are running a little short. How much would the price go up? Who knows? I don’t know what the profit margins on a can of tuna are. If they are pretty big, then the companies could certainly afford to make less money. If they are already low, then grandma will pay the price when she makes tuna casserole for Friday dinner. Perhaps that means there would be some other alternative, or the casserole would be smaller, or more people would discover the joy that is leftovers. 

This is a bit of a digression but there are people that actually won’t eat leftovers, which is definitely a first world problem. Growing up, if it wasn’t in the fridge for more than a week, it was fair game. Not that much lasted that long. How much less waste would there be, of tuna and pretty much anything else if people weren’t afraid to reheat things in the oven? 

Whatever the case, solving these issues won’t be easy and will require a lot of data and subsequent analysis of it. That’s where you and TARTLE come in. If you have any data that would help with that, share it. How much tuna does your family take in? Are there leftovers? How much does it cost in your area? Ever see it in the clearance aisle? Do you fish tuna? How often do you go out? Are there ways to improve pole and line fishing not widely known? Are there alternatives to tuna? These might seem like small things, but they are part of a larger whole and that data can help determine how big of a problem there is, or if there really is one at all. Should there be a true problem, that kind of information can help provide the best solutions. 

What’s your data worth?

Waves and the Politics of Science

Sometimes, it takes a long time before you are proven right. Not that too many people seriously doubted Einstein’s prediction that gravitational waves – ripples in the fabric of space – existed. However, it wasn’t definitively proven until 2016, nearly a 100 years after the Jewish scientist first posited their existence. Even in 2016, with the technology available, it took a major event to trigger waves large enough to be detected. That event was the collision of two black holes over a billion light years away. 

In 2012, the Higgs boson particle was finally discovered. Predicted back in the 1960s, the subatomic particle was needed to complete the Standard Model. Once the Large Hadron Collider finally proved the particle’s existence, physicists could say that they had a solid grasp of the fundamentals of how subatomic particles behave. 

It would be easy to go from these and other discoveries and say that everything is going perfectly smoothly in the world of physics. However, that would be to ignore all of the crazy things going on that we have no clue how to explain. Just take dark matter. There is a lot more of it in the universe than there is visible matter. The ratio seems to have gone down, from 10/1 to 6/1 likely thanks to more accurate analysis as well as people just getting better at detecting normal matter. How much of the change in the ratio is taken up by the discovery of extrasolar planets, or that neutrinos actually do have a tiny bit of mass? Yet, there is also a large amount that we can’t account for. There is also dark energy, which has no relation to the concept of dark matter. It’s just a term for the energy that might be causing the expansion of the universe to speed up. Yes, that’s a thing. And let’s not even get into quantum mechanics where things get really weird.

Pretending everything is chugging along smoothly would also ignore the fact there are issues that are more political than scientific to be dealt with. That comes into play especially when scientists are delving into those strange and mysterious elements, the places we don’t understand. That’s because the discoveries that come from research into those poorly understood fields sometimes have implications for what we consider to be established science. Those who have made their careers on things like orbital mechanics, star formation, how gravity works, and so forth don’t much like people telling them their theories are wrong. 

Einstein himself fell prey to this. When he was still working out his theory of relativity the common understanding of the universe was a steady state model. It had always been here much as we see it today. He and others were resistant to the Big Bang Theory that was getting peddled by one Fr. George Lemaitre. Einstein was so resistant he actually added a fudge factor into his equations called the cosmological constant that would make the answers compatible with a steady state model. Einstein later removed it, calling it his greatest blunder. 

If Einstein didn’t care about having his preconceptions challenged, it’s no wonder that scientists today struggle with the same impulses, though now, it is perhaps even worse. There are various incentives to not rock the boat. Too many are primarily interested in getting tenure at their universities, or getting their grant money from the government. Pursuing those goals rather than the truth means that new ideas aren’t just treated with suspicion, they can be flat out suppressed, holding back not just a particular scientist, but science as whole, thus limiting our ability to understand the world around us. That is precisely why we need more openness, more transparency in our data, so that others can go into it and research things for themselves and hopefully learn to be open to whatever the truth may be.

What’s your data worth?

Data and Coastline College

Aeron Zentner is an accomplished leader in the world of analytics, supply chain management, research and a couple dozen other things. Currently the Dean of Institutional Effectiveness at Coastline College, Dr. Zentner has helped in the completion of thousands of research projects and has been published dozens of times. In his spare time, he works as an editor and author for SAGE Publications and McGraw Hill.

Aeron first started to get into analytics back in 2008 when he practically fell into a research analyst job. At the age of only 29 he became a Dean and not long after was asked to teach analytics to people who did not have a major in it. To do that, to teach analytics to people who were not necessarily steeped in it, he developed an experiential learning program with SAGE. He worked with twelve other experts around the U.S. to develop the program which will be coming out soon. 

Teaching others about the importance of data is a genuine passion for Aeron. He sees it as a bridge that will help us achieve a greater understanding of the world around us. This can help people, regardless of the field they are in to get beyond mere intuition and gut reaction that is based on immediate observations and provide a bigger picture of what is going on beyond what they directly experience. It helps actually provide the ‘why’ to what they are seeing and experiencing. The data then can be the bridge that will help people utilize their available resources more efficiently, to get the most bang for their buck. 

How does one stop bias from creeping in though? Bias after all is a part of the human condition, we naturally see things in a way that is favorable to ourselves. The first step is to actually take a hard look at the questions that we are trying to use data to answer. Is the question itself biased? How is it being framed? It is also worth looking at what is influencing us. How much is based on our interpretation of customer behaviors and how that will affect our activity going forward? Finally, any company should check itself against its mission. Is your personal bias, or even the success of the company in a particular area influencing decisions in a way that is contrary to the mission? That mission becomes a standard by which the company can measure itself. 

So, not to put too fine a point on it, how does Coastline College measure up? Does the college and its students live up to Coastline’s own high standards? Does the college produce students who are competent to analyze data? One thing the college is doing is tracking students post-graduation to see how they themselves are actually performing according to their own goals at the time of graduation. And of course they go directly to the students when they come into the college as well. Surveys ask them why they selected Coastline and the particular courses they did. What are their goals? What do they hope to get out of their time at the college?

All of that data helps the college be a lot more flexible than other similar institutions. It also helps that they are small, which allows them to more easily tweak their classes, how they are constructed, how long they are and to make changes to the overall college experience if they identify a problem.  

With such a focus on getting direct data from their students, Coastline College is setting itself up to be a true beacon of the next stage of the digital age, one that will be instrumental in getting people to better understand the changing world.

What’s your data worth?

Let’s Talk Taxes!

Death and taxes. Both are inevitable and nobody much likes either one. Especially taxes. The system is naturally inefficient and more than a few people of all political persuasions can’t help but think that some if not all of that money is just vanishing into thin air. 

Fortunately, there are a few out there working to reform the Byzantine mess that is the IRS and the U.S. tax code. One of those brave souls is Annette Nellen. Annette is a professor at San Jose State University and has been on so many boards and received so many awards in the area of taxation and accounting that it would take all the space in this article to list them all. Her most recent article that made a wave or two in tax land advocates for getting rid of the standard April 15 due date. 

This in part has to do with the previously mentioned inefficiency of the current system. Given that all of your tax data is collected digitally and then digitally deposited in your account, why do you have to deal with a bunch of cumbersome paper forms, or digital forms that duplicate them, and then send in your tax return, most likely digitally. Wouldn’t it be a lot easier for most people if the IRS just sent you your return? No forms, no waiting, not glitches that lose your return in the mail, they just calculate what you owe and send it to you. Unless you are self-employed or make a lot of charitable donations this system should work very well. 

Some object that they really don’t trust the IRS will their data. The truth is though that they have it already. That’s precisely why the direct return would work. However, Annette has some ideas that would make the situation more palatable. 

First and foremost, all of your data would go into your own unique cloud. This would work whether you work at Starbucks or run a public benefit data management and protection company. That way, you could sync different incomes, donations, accounts, and the software to process it all in one place. The big benefit would be that you could even set the system to process a return for you on your own timetable. It wouldn’t change the total, just when you get it. Or, a person could adjust their various exemptions on the fly if they want to tweak their taxes so that they are only ever paying in exactly what they are required to, eliminating the need for a return at all. 

This could be especially beneficial for those who are self-employed. One of the hazards of working for yourself is hoping you don’t wind up owing a massive amount at the end of the year. Many just set aside money out of their income for that specific purpose. The system Annette proposes would allow the self-employed to pay throughout the year. 

This brings up a question, if this would work so well, what is the real hold up? In a word – technology. Not that the technology doesn’t exist. Rather, the IRS and government in general doesn’t have it yet. Government agencies tend to lag very far behind in the technology department. There are a lot of reasons for that, but you can also be sure that it will change in the years to come. As the professor observes, the generation currently in college is growing up largely technology dependent. They live in a world where people don’t use cash, or even a card, they just pay with their phones and call it a day. As they move up the ranks in the private and public sector, the need for the technology even in the most backward of government warehouses will need to catch up. 

All of this is just the beginning of course. There are a lot of issues with our current system and many things that could be done to reform it. Until then, make sure your taxes are in on time.

What are your taxes worth?

Algae Goes Moo

Guess what, the Earth is only so big. Yes, it is big but it still has a finite size. That means there is only so much room for people and the resources necessary to support them. How much? There is a lot of disagreement on that but in principle, there is only so much space so there is definitely a limit. Which means it makes sense to spend time thinking about how we can make the best use of the resources we have until someone figures out how to efficiently terraform Mars.

One of the many resources we have that does have limited space is farmland. We’ve frankly done a great job in the last hundred years of figuring out how to get more and more out of less. Unfortunately, that has in part been through the use of growth hormones, fertilizers, and pesticides. While that has allowed us to get more food out of less land it has also had downstream effects on the environment that have been less than desirable. Yet, we don’t want people to starve. So, what do we do?

One of the biggest consumers of farmland isn’t actually people but cattle. There is a ton of farmland used to grow food for cattle. Combine that with what we use for people and then factor in the fact there is only so much fertile land to be used and it doesn’t take a genius to see that eventually we will run out. For one, there is the fact that there are only so many nutrients in the soil and if we don’t give farmland a break, it will eventually run out of them. That’s part of how the USA rose in power so quickly, it had farmland that was virtually untapped, allowing people there to grow more crops that were larger and more nutrient dense than what was possible in Europe where people had already been farming for centuries. Many cultures have understood this, which is why they developed the concept of crop rotation. Different crops use different nutrients so switching crops lets the soil build up the ones not currently being used. It’s also why the Mosaic Law directed the ancient Hebrews to periodically allow their fields to lie fallow. It gave time for plants and bugs to decay, animals to poop, and bugs to till the soil and rejuvenate it. 

Now though, it is very hard to turn back to that system of farming, maybe impossible. Again, what do we do? One possible solution lies in another problem that we’ve created. Ironically, one that has been exacerbated by industrial farming – algae. 

While fertilizers have contributed to algae blooms in the coastal areas of our oceans which have in turn darkened those oceans and could lead to disruptions of our ecosystems on that end (a subject we’ve gone more in depth on elsewhere), that very algae has a lot of nutrients. Nutrients that could be of use if we harvested more of them and used them to feed both people and cattle. Why not just people? Let’s be honest, Travolta was right in Pulp Fiction, “bacon is good”. And where would Sammy J be without his royale with cheese? People aren’t going to stop eating meat en masse no matter how much some might want that to happen. So it makes sense to find a more sustainable and environmentally friendly way to feed the cattle and so feed the people. Why not make use of this abundant resource and in so doing help solve another problem that we’ve inadvertently created? 

For the record, this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t continue to pursue reforms to industrial farming. Those are sorely needed. Yet, it is this kind of outside the box thinking that will allow people to live in a way that is both sustainable and comfortable. TARTLE strives to promote and stimulate that kind of creative problem solving by encouraging people to share and donate their data with research organizations. That will help them pursue solutions to our most pressing problems with the best data available – yours.

What’s your data worth?

Susanne Tedrick is a woman of many skills with a long list of accomplishments. She currently works for Microsoft, specifically as a specialist for Azure, their cloud computing platform. She also volunteers for several organizations devoted to encouraging minorities to pursue careers in the world of technology. These include Advancing Tech Talent, CompTIA, and Npower’s Command Shift initiative. 

She doesn’t always spend her time behind a desk though. Susanne also has a couple marathons under her belt, though she says those days are behind her now. 

In case you weren’t impressed enough, she also has a book to her name, published in 2020 by John Wiley & Sons. Through her book, Women of Color in Tech, Susanne wants to let women know about the vast array of available careers in tech and how to get into those jobs.

With that array of accomplishments, one might say that Susanne didn’t even need to write the book. Her own life is an example of what you can accomplish when you have a clear vision and the passion to bring that vision into the real world. Of course, even with her many speaking engagements (quickly looking through her schedule at www.susannetedrick.com shows a very packed schedule), even this human dynamo can’t be everywhere at once. The book allows her to get her message out and positively impact as many people as possible. 

Now, some might be tempted to look at her work and dismiss it as more diversity buzzwords. Susanne understands well that diversity is about a lot more than race and gender. Those are encouraged of course, but largely because people have a tendency to feel signaled out and alienated in a situation where no one looks like them. And of course there are a few who are happy to make them feel that way. Susanne just helps give women of color like herself the extra encouragement they need to step into what understandably seems like an intimidating field. It’s an uphill battle, a marathon if you will, thanks to all the cultural biases that affect the decision to even enter on a STEM path. Everything from people assuming that women can’t handle the logical world of coding to those in an urban environment thinking education is a sign of weakness and the only path to success is through sports. Fortunately, those battles are being won and more minorities are looking into the tech field.

Beyond mere race and gender though are far more important aspects of diversity, thought and experience. A person’s background and basic beliefs about the world can provide unique ways of thinking that will look at problems from different angles and so present different solutions. If everyone has exactly the same mindset, problems can become much more difficult to overcome or even identify. When a company has a diversity of thought and experience (which does have some overlap with race and gender) amongst its employees that company actually does better financially. 

So, what is it that drives Susanne to do all of this? Given the amount of volunteer work she does, it clearly isn’t about the money. She says it is simply watching the next generation develop. There is a great deal of satisfaction in working with a young novice and watching her learn and grow. With a good mentor like Susanne, someone fresh out of school can go from having a lack of confidence to being ready to be a leader for the next generation of young professionals. 

Susanne Tedrick is the perfect example of a woman who talks the talk and walks the walk. A lifetime steeped in the world of technology has not made her lose sight not just of the data that helps are do her job, but of the human beings behind the data.

What’s your data worth?

Wildfires and Herons

Remember how during the end of 2019 and beginning of 2020 Australia seemed like it was entirely on fire? Record wildfires spread throughout much of the continent, turning the skies red. In fact, at some point, it even rained fire. Then, back over in the United States, there were massive wildfires in Oregon, California, and Colorado. These also turned the skies red and I even saw video of a fire tornado. Yes, a fire tornado. It looked like something out of a movie. It also put enough smoke into the atmosphere that affected the color of the sunrise and sunset as far away as Michigan for a week. I don’t care who you are, that’s impressive. 

Fortunately, there are some ways to bring at least a sliver of good out of all those fires. Researchers took advantage of the situation and studied how the smoke affected the light reaching the earth. Naturally, it was less. What was more surprising though was that the smoke didn’t so much absorb the light and thus keep the heat in the Earth’s ecosystem as much as it scattered the light. That allows the heat to dissipate, with some of it even going off into space. The net result of all those wildfires is therefore actually a net drop in temperature. 

One of the really interesting things that the researchers found was that fires in different areas of the world created different kinds of smoke and therefore different scattering effects. For example, the fires in Oregon created darker smoke that scattered more light than the fires in Australia which was mostly burning dry brush. 

This data is important in that it helps us refine our climate models. The net cooling effect was something that was unexpected, meaning that our climate models were off and needed to be refined based on the new data.

That discovery points to one of the more important philosophical underpinnings of science in general – the concept that we should question what we think we know, that we should always be searching for better data to improve our understanding. Perhaps that is nowhere more important than in the realm of climate since we are basing policy off of our climate models. Given the importance of government regulation to the environment and to the economy it is imperative that they continue to question what they think they know. In doing so, more research happens and people are able to find unexpected things, both good and bad, leading to models that more accurately reflect reality.

In other news on improving our data sets, a different group of researchers were having a problem tracking smelt populations. As scientists tend to do when they want to track animal movements and populations they tag the animals. The problem was, when they would check up on their tagged tiny fish, they found there were far more of them gone than they had predicted, without a corresponding population decrease. They were puzzled until they looked in the belly of a heron and found some of their tagged smelt. It turns out herons love the little fish and don’t discriminate based on whether or not the critters have a tag. The discovery solved the mystery of the missing tagged fish and helped the scientists better understand the local ecosystem. 

What does all of this have to do with TARTLE? What is something that both anecdotes have in common? They both involve researchers solving a problem by getting as close to the source of the information as possible. That’s exactly what we advocate here at TARTLE. We want people to be able to get to the data’s source, you. That way, they can correct whatever assumptions and biases they might be starting out with and in the end make decisions that will actually make things better for everyone. 

What’s your data worth?

Developed by Patrick