As of the time that I started writing this article, I’d been alive:
- 1,355,270,400 seconds,
- 22,587,840 minutes,
- 376,464 hours,
- 15,686 days, and
- 2240 weeks (rounded down).
No, I didn’t figure that out manually. I used this handy online tool. So, what does this tell you about me? With a little math, you can estimate my age so you can refer to me by the number of years that I’ve been around. However, this is so much that these numbers don’t tell you. They don’t tell you how I spent those seconds, minutes, hours, days, and weeks. They don’t tell you what I was and what type of person I’ve become. They don’t tell you about my deepest help beliefs and convictions, my greatest fears, and my grandest dreams. They also don’t show how experiences in one minute of my life influenced those in a later minute. For that, we have to go beyond numbers.
In our growing world of data analytics, learning analytics, standardized tests that focus upon that which is easiest to quantify, health analytics, risk analytics, and number-crazed schools and organizations; I see ample value in the power and possibility of numbers. Yet, I sometimes worry that our fascination with this newfound ability to track and quantify so much will lead us to mistakingly believe that the things we can measure numerically have greater value or importance than that which is difficult or impossible to quantify. Long live story and “rich description”!