An Essay about Big Data Analytics: Trouble Amping Up

October 31, 2022

I read “What Moneyball for Everything Has Done to American Culture.” Who doesn’t love a thrilling data analytics story? Let’s narrow the scope of the question: What MBA, engineer, or Certified Financial Analyst doesn’t love a thrilling data analytics story?

Give up? The answer is 99.9 percent emit adrenaline and pheromone in copious quantities. Yeah, baby. Winner!

The essay in the “we beg for dollars politely” publication asserts:

The analytics revolution, which began with the movement known as Moneyball, led to a series of offensive and defensive adjustments that were, let’s say, _catastrophically successful_. Seeking strikeouts, managers increased the number of pitchers per game and pushed up the average velocity and spin rate per pitcher. Hitters responded by increasing the launch angles of their swings, raising the odds of a home run, but making strikeouts more likely as well. These decisions were all legal, and more important, they were all _correct_ from an analytical and strategic standpoint.

Well, that’s what makes outfits similar to Google-type, Amazon-type, and TikTok-type outfits so darned successful. Data analytics and nifty algorithms pay off. Moneyball!

The essay notes:

The sport that I fell in love with doesn’t really exist anymore.

Is the author talking about baseball or is the essaying pinpointing what’s happened in high technology user land?

My hunch is that baseball is a metaphor for the outstanding qualities of many admired companies. Privacy? Hey, gone. Security? There is a joke worthy of vaudeville. Reliability? Ho ho ho. Customer service from a person who knows a product? You have to be kidding.

I like the last paragraph:

Cultural Moneyballism, in this light, sacrifices exuberance for the sake of formulaic symmetry. It sacrifices diversity for the sake of familiarity. It solves finite games at the expense of infinite games. Its genius dulls the rough edges of entertainment. I think that’s worth caring about. It is definitely worth asking the question: In a world that will only become more influenced by mathematical intelligence, can we ruin culture through our attempts to perfect it?

Unlike a baseball team’s front office, we can’t fire these geniuses when the money is worthless and the ball disintegrates due to a lack of quality control.

Stephen E Arnold, October 31, 2022


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