I am constantly told that data is everything. I’m not entirely convinced.
Sometimes evidence from my own eyes and life experience — subjective data, you might say — will always triumph over a spreadsheet, a chart, or a trumpeting startup founder.
I wonder then what you might think of a site for sore eyes that desperately wants to make your life more beautiful.
When I first saw DataScalp – I know, the name doesn’t resonate with beauty – I wondered if the creator’s own eyes and life experience hadn’t been quite what they could have been.
This name may inspire some to ponder, “Dear Lord, why?” And the site, well, it looks like a forgotten concoction from the less creative era of 1997.
Yet DataScalp’s mission is to make your flight experience better through, oh yes, data. And not data provided by DataScalp, but by miserable people like you who have endured terrible flight experiences.
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What the site provides is a running score of airline cancellations, baggage accuracy, punctuality, and cancellation time for refund.
But I ask you, can’t you already find all this on the web? Doesn’t this information already exist? And, perhaps more importantly, given that Americans have so few real choices when traveling, will this data influence human behavior?
I asked DataScalp creator Dwight Harris Jr. about some of my concerns.
He told me, “This content relies on inferential statistics to mimic the information airlines actually have, but holds it back. DataScalp content is based on core services. It’s not based on the taste, like Yelp, which is subjective and does not allow ranking.”
He also offered an intriguing thought: “Consumers attracted by good performance leave the abundance of inventory to the airlines, which drives prices down. Therefore, consumers via DataScalp literally impact prices unlike any another platform.”
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I wonder if that will be the case.
And what about the name? Isn’t that a bit controversial?
Not to Wright Jr.: “You scalp tickets, so DataScalp removes ambiguity around information. Find any business name and website that contains the word Data is extraordinarily difficult. DataScalp as a name is a godsend.”
Who am I to argue when God is invoked?
But the airlines have now got their act together, haven’t they? At least that’s what the airlines say. Why, Thanksgiving seemed relatively peaceful. Even the transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg thought so.
Ah, but Harris Jr. insists things are going to get worse. He told me, “The only reason the Thanksgiving trip was relatively easy was because of climate change, providing a relatively warm November. But the airlines didn’t change anything. So when the weather gets colder , it’s going to exacerbate the problems that have always been there.”
Yes, but it’s always been like that, hasn’t it? Especially on the east coast. Nothing can change the changing tides of storms.
Harris Jr. disagrees. He said: “Airlines won’t change until we get reliable customer feedback that can’t be siled or hidden in one of these customer feedback forms. Although DataScalp is not pretty, he’s ready to solve an ugly problem: air travel.”
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I confess to having a hard time seeing how the collected thoughts of angry American fliers can make any difference. This has never been the case. The airlines know you can complain all you want, but when four airlines have over 80% of the seats, you have to take what you can get and be grateful you got there.
This winter may be DataScalp’s take-off. Hear the prodigious tones of Harris Jr.: “Winter is coming for the airline industry. I expect December travel to be some of the worst yet.”
I guess you have nothing to lose by offering your views to this new Reddit of the Air. And Wright Jr. insists his site will change human behavior. (Yes really.)
“I worked on Wall Street for a decade,” he told me. “I have succeeded in changing the behavior of companies at the highest levels. This approach has proven itself.”
But of course. Businesses are people too, right?
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