The Wall Street Journal published a blog post today in which it decided, pretty much anyway, to class data as a countable noun which goes with a singular verb much like information. But what do you do with a word like data?
For the WSJ this is good English:
the data is collected
However, many traditionalists contend that data is in fact the Latin plural of the singular, datum and therefore we should be saying:
the data are collected
This may be the case but data is no longer a Latin word (or rather, it is now an English word of Latin origin) and it has to conform to English grammar rules. Practically speaking, can we look at a collection of data and count them? In my opinion we can't. I am all in favour of descriptive grammar so I am sticking with data is and wait for the demise of data are which has always sounded a bit stiff and pompous to me.