heard: datapoint

Marc Velasco marcjvelasco at GMAIL.COM
Wed May 28 20:36:47 UTC 2008

On Wed, May 28, 2008 at 3:28 PM, Dave Wilton <dave at wilton.net> wrote:

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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Dave Wilton <dave at WILTON.NET>
> Subject:      Re: heard: datapoint
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> I've heard it in two distinct senses. The first is the datapoint = datum
> sense.

> The second is where datapoint is used to mean one fact, out of several,
> that
> is used, or could potentially be used, to support a conclusion

I think I'm talking about this second usage.

> (essentially
> a datum, but not necessarily one that can be quantified). "The solution
> worked for 80% of the cases" could be a datapoint in this sense when
> compared with "the solution is cheap" and "the solution can be implemented
> quickly." All three are datapoints that support the conclusion that the
> solution in question should be implemented.
> I've never heard anything remotely like, "he made a good datapoint."

I may well be misremembering this usage... if it was something like "he
brought up a good datapoint" then I think it falls into this 'one fact, out
of several.'  But in that usage, it's basically just what we normally call
"a point" people make in constructing an argument.

Do you happen to remember in what setting you heard this second usage?

> -----Original Message-----
> From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf
> Of
> Marc Velasco
> Sent: Wednesday, May 28, 2008 10:43 AM
> Subject: Re: heard: datapoint
> >> In the branches of science in which I've been involved,
> >> (biochemistry, analytical chemistry), 'datapoint' basically
> >> means a datum, i.e., one observation from the several
> >> comprising the data of an experiment.  ...
> agreed.
> >>  I'm not
> >> sure I follow what you mean that it is being used to
> >> focus more on the rhetorical quality/context of the
> >> statement and not on the data itself.  I'll have to
> >> listen for this. Are you certain that the simpler
> >> meaning was not intended?
> I'm not 100% sure... since they've always been moments in passing.  But,
> dealing with data myself, I perked up when I heard it referring not to a
> particular datapoint, but to something a little more nebulous, at least to
> my ear.
> But, I'm pretty sure an approximate usage would be something like "He made
> a
> good datapoint."  So, it seems it refers to the statement, and not to the
> data.  Second, it seems to refer to aggregate measures, and not individual
> measurements.  E.g. "The solution worked for 80% of the cases."  Third,
> place of usage tends not to be the laboratory, or where actual measurement
> or analysis takes place, but rather the auditorium or the board room, where
> "high level" discussions take place.
> It could be a misuse, I suppose, from someone who doesn't know what a
> datapoint normally means, and is simply attaching this to any number that
> comes up...
> I found a web example (
> http://www.xml.com/pub/a/2000/03/15/deviant/index.html):
> Two existing languages (both available as W3C Notes), PGML and VML, were
> > used as a basis for SVG. Ferraiolo pointed out that PGML uses a verbose
> > syntax, whilst VML is more compact, and that the VML approach was found
> to
> > be more acceptable:
> >
> >    The SVG working group thus had a couple of existing languages to study
> > and present to users for feedback. Typically, PGML files would be twice
> as
> > big as the corresponding VML files. Plain and simple, this size increase
> was
> > determined to be unacceptable. Thus, SVG's approach to path data has
> turned
> > out to be more like VML than PGML.
> >
> > Ferraiolo's replies, and the resulting discussion, serve as an
> interesting
> > _datapoint_ in the eternal "elements versus attributes" debate.
> >
> Ferraiolo's replies... serve as an interesting _datapoint_ in the ...
> debate.
> He could've said Ferraiolo's, measures, F's tests, F's numbers... but he
> said replies, so maybe that's what he meant.
> Like I said, it seems pretty rare, and presumably it wouldn't've
> infiltrated
> all fields, but I think it may be spreading.
> It'd be interesting to know if anyone else is hearing this.
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