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Posts Tagged ‘David McCandless’

Do you know better?

Just watching the comments fly over at Nathan Yau’s blog, Flowing Data, which follows from a post by a giant in the field, Stephen Few who was commenting on the work of another name in this space David McCandless, it occurs to me that the Web 2.0 ideal of collaborative communities is perhaps further away than some of us think.  Nathan Yau and the Flowing Data community are all interested in doing better work around data visualisation.  Stephen Few and David McCandless are both immensely smart and successful thought leaders.
– So why isn’t the flurry of comments bringing great ideas to improve the delivery of insight through easy to use interfaces?

I like to think that I will (or rather I am always aiming to) consider opposing points of view when working through a problem – Tufte and Few books sit side by side on my bookshelf.  Having a fairly eclectic reading list hopefully helps me consider a range of viewpoints as well. But I know this is something I can always work on.

One of the things I most admire in a leader is someone who knows what their blind spot/ weakness is and who has a consistent strategy in place to ensure that it doesn’t hurt their team’s delivery. I am generally in awe of facilitators who can work with a room of people who are at each other throats but can bring them to a an agreed point of view.  I am always impressed when people can build on the ideas of others and grow them into something great.

The quote that goes with this is a no brainer of course: “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” – Isaac Newton

But maybe it’s bigger than that. What if we all need each other to continually build on all of our ideas if we are going to make it. Data visualisation is not world hunger, but maybe the principles of everyone working together bringing success for all is at the core of our very future.

Keith

PS. “People who work together will win, whether it be against complex football defenses, or the problems of modern society” – Vince Lombardi

The Apparent Wisdom of Crowds

A TED talk by a “data journalist” David McCandless (same video at Youtube) highlighted that the display of information is more and more critical in influencing the world we live in – love his graphic of Facebook status updates about break ups. And what better way to display information than in an infographic, and gee these are appearing everywhere on almost every topic – even South Park.  While some argue that this proliferation is perhaps not always done out of the desire for increased objective understanding of data, there is certainly a need for anyone displaying data (which includes me when I am working) to find a compelling way to display that data so that is tells a story.
To make all of this work though we first need to have the data, the understanding and the desire…

The Data – I read a few Gov 2.0 type blogs which talk about government departments and agencies making their information available to anyone and then people being able to use it (however they want). Some agencies are taking this a step further and allowing anyone to create an application which can use the open data sets which anyone can then use to make use of the data.  What is basically happening here is the analysis tool development for the data is being crowd sourced.

The Understanding – This is what I now think has started to become the next version of the use of the wisdom of the crowd by taking it from more simplistic tasks – such as come up with a new slogan or product name (iSnack 2.0) or send in your photo (NothingLikeAustralia.com) – to much more complex elements that often require teams to work together – such as BrownCoats: Redemption, or the amazingly geeky Star Wars Uncut project – or do work of very high complexity with high production values – such as this short film which got its maker a US$30mil Hollywood contact.

The Desire – Something from a recent article on a conversation between Dan Pink and Clay Shirky reminded me of how this sounds when someone says it:
Pink: Think about open source software in general—whether it’s Linux or Apache. Suppose I’d gone to an economist or management consultant 25 years ago and said, “I’ve got a cool new business model for making software. Here’s how it works: A bunch of intrinsically motivated people around the world get together to do technically sophisticated stuff for no pay. And then after working really hard, they give away their product for free. Trust me: It’s going to be huge.”

There are so many data sets that are available. Would it hurt for any of us to think about how we might make the best use of the crowd (or the best people in the crowd) once in a while to help us display the data for our industry?

Keith

PS. “Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable.” – Mark Twain

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