Kate Crawford, of Microsoft Research, agrees that data scientists would benefit from better qualitative analysis of their quantitative data.  Those making and using urban data should follow the example of social scientists and humanists, pausing regularly to consider where the data come from, and how they’re derived and analyzed. “We know that data insights can be found at multiple levels of granularity,” Crawford writes, “and by combining methods such as ethnography with analytics, or conducting semi-structured interviews paired with information retrieval techniques, we can add depth to the data we collect. We get a much richer sense of the world when we ask people the why and the how not just the ‘how many.’
A lot of the discourse around data has been dividing research or insight into two, distinct camps: quantitative data versus qualitative. Sides have argued for one or the other, almost forcing people into either camp to gain critical mass for some purpose.
Neither on its own is enough. I remember talking about this with one of my anthropology professors and one of the sociology professors (I have a dual degree so I had advisors in both). The anthropologist never brought data or statistics into the conversation. He thought that it was insight enough to go out into the field, observe, take note and analyze via theoretical lens and draw insight and conclusions. My sociology professor took a different view. According to him, no research was complete without looking at the numbers. It didn’t have to be numbers from your own research pool, but quantitative data that would help support whatever findings you came out of qualitative research with.
Now, these are just two people and obviously they do not represent the entire discipline. Both have their faults. It is always about trying to learn the nuance of the qualitative life and then figuring out how you make sense of what you saw: do you use the numbers or not? Use both.