The nerd factor

Computers are so fascinating, in and of themselves, that it is easy to get so absorbed in the minutia of their operation that you forget what you started to use the computer for in the first place.


The seductive thing about the computer is that it presents many interesting puzzles for which there is always an answer. And if you work with it long enough and hard enough, it will always reward you. Most of life is not that way. Rewards are uncertain; you never have complete control. And so it becomes tempting to concentrate on the area where you do have control, the computer and its contents, to the exclusion of everything else. Neither academics nor journalists can afford to become that narrow. The computer needs to be kept in its place: as a tool to help you toward a goal, not as the goal itself.

From “Precision Journalism: A Reporter’s Introduction to Social Science Methods”, by Philip Meyer

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