Extra “Data” Curriculum

I was approached (via email) by 14 year old Jacob “Jake” Dreiling, @quasarbooster, with a rather odd request.  He was looking for some “Extra Curriculum” around a specific topic that he is currently investigating.  See, Jake has a condition known as Asperger Syndrome and struggles with some abstract concepts, but he has an insatiable curiosity and a true love for science.  I loved his question and, after replying to his email, I decided to post it here for your reaction.

I also posted the question to Quora. Feel free to add your own thoughts and ideas here and I’ll pass them on to Jake.

So, what would you like to know about Data?

What does data look like?
How does data travel?
What is data made of?
What are the many forms of data?
What are the effects of data?
…other related information.

The answers to these questions can either be a simple one or two sentence reply (i.e. data is sensory input…), or volumes of text covering the subject in every form or situation.  Data could be as obvious as a Wikipedia page dedicated to a specific subject, or a subtle glance from a cute girl from the opposite side of a crowded room.

Data travels in millions of ways.  What’s more important is when data arrives, it’s perception, or rather – our perception of it – gives it meaning.  Data is received through our human senses.  Some data, like electromagnetism or radio waves are picked up by instruments and then perceived by our senses once they are translated in a way we can understand them.  This leads me to think there must be an incalculable number of data-form in the universe that are currently in perceivable at this time because we lack the tool/instrument and/or sense.

The effects of data cover two main components: logic & emotion.  Can you think of any more? I believe all reasonable types of data-effect fall under these two themes.

Now, what does this information mean to you?  All data is appreciated.