Experience vs. Data: Consuming Mark Zuckerberg as Data

June 4, 2011
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One day last month, a dazzling sunny day in Paris, I faced a choice: Do I spend my last afternoon in a crowded tent listening to Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, or do I dash across the river from the Tuileries and make a quick visit to the Musee d’Orsay (below)?

One day last month, a dazzling sunny day in Paris, I faced a choice: Do I spend my last afternoon in a crowded tent listening to Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, or do I dash across the river from the Tuileries and make a quick visit to the Musee d’Orsay (below)?

I ended up bagging Zuckerberg. The decision boiled down to a question of experience vs. data. The walk across central Paris to the museum would be an experience. What I would learn from Mark Zuckerberg, for the most part, would be data, and I could just as easily consume it, either in writing or (far less likely) video whenever I wanted.

I find that I make these data vs. experience decisions regularly. And some of them are changing. Baseball, for example. I usually consume it as a data stream, following pitches on my phone or computer as I talk to my wife (she doesn’t like it), watch TV or barbecue a fish. The experience of conversation is often reduced to data, with text messages as the most basic. Of course, since my business involves selling pages and pages of data, I shouldn’t put it down. But the information that comes in from our body, through experience, is the richest of our data channels–especially on a sunny day in Paris.

I walked back from the museum up these steps from the Seine

And saw this bird in the Tuilerie Gardens.

I’m flying down to Madrid this morning and will be biking for the next week, from Leon to Santiago de Compostela, with an old friend.