What is Data?

Data-Design Dictionary.
A dictionary to illuminate data-driven generative design and creative coding.


According to the origin of the term, data is ‘something given’, which initially has no meaning. It is information obtained by records, observations, measurements, statistical procedures or similar, which describe reality in the most objective – mostly numerical – way possible. In the case of data-driven generative design, data is understood as units of information that can be processed by the computer, for example, differences in the perception of physical states collected by sensors and measuring instruments. In addition, two different types of data are described:

Qualitative data are expressions of aspects of our world whose properties must be perceived and interpreted. For example, it is about whether a statement is funny or whether we find a certain person attractive.

Quantitative data, i.e., immediate data such as perceptions that are measurable and can be expressed in numbers. In the example of empathy, this would be, for example, the size of a pupil in millimeters or the volume of a voice in decibels.

The bigger picture of designing and branding with data: