People ought to enjoy the arts for, err, well personal reasons. To the great disapproval of my friends who live in Hampstead and Islington (and parts of New York City. And Beijing. And Shanghai. Singapore. Mumbai. Helsinki. Rome. Brussels. Oh heck, just about everywhere) I enjoy pop music. For them pop music has no staying power and therefore no redeeming features. For me it is precisely that pop music is transient that gives it value. Because it does not endure, pop music provides an indelible marker in time.
In the same way, valueless data serve useful functions. By providing nonsense values that sweep appropriately through the underlying probability space, such data become indexes that provide balanced access into individual records in a database. These valueless data become keys whose precise values no user will ever want to know. However, simply from being invisibly present, they keep a database from becoming unbalanced, unwieldy, and slow to retrieve.
14 November 2007 Confucius Institute for Business London Public Lecture: Knowledge economies in China [Podcast] [Presentation (PDF, 696Kb). The dynamic animation won't show in the PDF file but is available here]
28 November 2007 Queen Mary CGR Public Lecture: Global imbalance, global inequality [Podcast] [Presentation (PDF, 861Kb). The dynamic animations won't show in the PDF file but are available at $1-poverty and $2-poverty]