Torture, Numbers, and Digital Tape

By kboye | February 2, 2011

The IASSIST Quarterly (IQ) volume 33 number 3 is now on the web:


With this issue concentrating on quantitative investigations and the use of statistics, I came to think of the Mark Twain citation “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” With the violent title of the first article (see below), the article on numbers and statistics, and the report from a national statistics agency, the “Torture,Numbers, and Digital Tape” title surfaced. A fourth article bends and uses a famous film title, so I used and bent another film title for the heading for this introduction. (A remark to the non-cineasts: Steven Soderbergh directed in 1989 a motion picture called “Sex, Lies, and Videotape”). With that I welcome you to an issue of the IQ that is filled with tales about data and their uses.

“Torturing Nurses with Data”. Now, that’s a title to remember! Maybe it could be a song too! Kristi Thompson, Data Librarian at the Leddy Library of the University of Windsor, presented this paper at the IASSIST 2008 conference at Stanford in the session “Numeracy, Quantitative Reasoning and Teaching about Data”. She describes and discusses two iterations in the creation of a short module in quantitative research in the programme for a Masters in Nursing.

The second article is also within the quantitative area. With the short title of “Numbers”, Flavio Bonifacio takes us on a tour of “numbers” from the representation of reality, through processing as a system of guarantee and numbers as model parts, to what is called a path between numbers and society. Flavio Bonifacio works at Metis Ricerche in Torino, a company which does data collection and processing, forecasting, and analysis, and has used SAS software in several of its projects.

In the session on “Building on Data: Resources, Tools and Applications” at the 2009 IASSIST conference in Tampere Chiu-Chuang (Lu) Chou, a senior special librarian at the Data and Information Service at the University of Wisconsin-Madison presented her “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Playing a Data Custodian”. The article concerns the National Survey of Families and Households (NSFH) that is a longitudinal study on family life in the US.

The last article is a presentation from the session “Building Data Archives and User Communities: Greece, Estonia and Ethiopia” also at the 2009 IASSIST conference in Tampere. Yacob Mudesir Seid from the Central Statistical Agency of Ethiopia (CSA) describes the agency as being responsible for providing accurate and timely statistical information for development planning and monitoring purposes. 

Articles for the IASSIST Quarterly are very welcome. Articles can be papers from IASSIST conferences, from other conferences, from local presentations, discussion input, etcetera. Authors are very welcome to contact me. If you don’t have anything to offer right now, then please prepare yourselves for the coming IASSIST conference. You can start planning for participation in a session there. Should you be interested in compiling special issues for the IQ as guest editor(s) please also contact me. Chairing a conference session with the purpose of aggregating and integrating papers for a special issue IQ is much appreciated as the information reaches many more people than the session participants and will be readily available on the IASSIST website. More information on

Contact the editor via e-mail: []{.s2}.

Karsten Boye Rasmussen