Data Points

220px-Closest_pair_of_points.svgData is a word that is on a trajectory upward in the tech industry.  We can sell the data, we can collect that data, we have data that nobody else is aggregating, our business is being built on data…blah, blah, blah.  Not to poke fun as I am invested in a variety of businesses that are profiting from data.  Data is key to so many things including decision making, big picture thoughts and insight into people.

I had lunch with a very good friend who I have known since the beginning of our careers.  After almost a decade of staying home she is starting to get back on the career train.  We had a really interesting conversation about data points and now I can't get it out of my head. 

She is a very insightful person in regards to people and relationships.  She is a believer in anything that happens when it comes to relationships or decisions made is just a data point.  Those data points are just to be remembered and understood.  It doesn't mean that you can change anything or necessarily expect anything from a person but something to think about. 

It could be akin to red flags or glimpses into someones personality.  All of those things are data points.  For some reason I keep thinking about a mother and a little boy I knew years ago.  The kid was into his guitar and crayons but his parents were into him being an athlete.  The parents pushed that kid to be an athlete and not surprising he hated it.  Data point.

It might be a big duh but in my mind I am taking a look at everything from a whole new angle, life is all about a data point aka a set of measurements. 


Comments (Archived):

  1. Lisa Abeyta

    Very true. We collect analytics on a variety of actions in our civic apps, and when you see them drop on a map, filtered by action, length of time, or some other value, it is telling. One point? Oh, cool, look at that. Two points in the same spot? Interesting. Thousands of points all falling in a line along a major transit route? Now the data is telling us that people are checking the real time tracking on their route to see where their bus is – instead of making a much more expensive call for the city to their 311 call center. And armed with that information, the city can begin looking along the routes where those actions aren’t happening and implement motivators for transit riders to use their apps instead of making calls.Human behavior is much the same. When we begin to see the patterns in our interactions, we can begin to identify problems or unaddressed issues. It is when we ignore those patterns in ourselves or others that we end up with relationship fractures that are much more difficult to overcome.

  2. lisa hickey

    I LOVE this Joanne!Have you heard of a concept called “ambient awareness”? I first read about it in an article by Clive Thompson, “The Brave New World of Digital Intimacy” when he was originally discussing the implications of an always on stream of digital information through things like Facebook status updates and tweets, for example. “Each little update — each individual bit of social information — is insignificant on its own, even supremely mundane. But taken together, over time, the little snippets coalesce into a surprisingly sophisticated portrait of your friends’ and family members’ lives, like thousands of dots making a pointillist painting… The ambient information becomes like “a type of E.S.P.,” an invisible dimension floating over everyday life.”The “aha” behind what you just wrote and ambient awareness is that you are getting all these “data points” (your word, not his) — some of which you are conscious of and some of which just sit slightly below your consciousness.That is — you’re getting data points all the time, you just don’t know they are data points.This leads me to some implications for the future:– Companies should think of streams of information from their target audience as data points that they use for Product Development and R&D.– There are a lot of people overwhelmed by the extraordinary proliferation of data points on the internet. Then there are people like me — who before the internet had a difficult time socializing with people because I didn’t have enough data.– Can we use this idea to help people with Alzhiemer’s — through technology get them the data they need at the time they need it?– As a manager, one of my key guiding philosophies is always “give people the information they need to do their job.” However I balance that with making sure employees know it is also their responsibility to see the data that is out there and make sense of it in a way that helps guide their actions.– Social media “accelerates serendipity” because you suddenly see two or more relevant data points in ways you hadn’t before. Jeff Jarvis called serendipity “unexpected relevance”. It’s unexpected because you are adding new information into old to get to real insights. — The key, of course, is how can we use these additional data points for good.(Sorry I went so deep here, I get so excited about this stuff and when someone gives me an “aha” I can’t help but become passionate about it all over again.)

    1. Gotham Gal

      unexpected relevance. i love that. it totally rings true and describes the whole ‘aha’ moment.

  3. Jonathan

    I have a healthy skepticism about measuring everything and the data points those measurements may yield. I think there is a difference between measuring data in an automated way, measuring it via crowd sourcing (a la Yelp) and measuring it personally. Automated measurement, if constructed correctly, can remove bias. No one is there with a clip board counting anything — it is done by a machine. The data points that are created will contain information is the sample is big enough. Analysis…well that is still more art than science.Crowd sourcing measurements via something like Yelp tend to head to an average when the sample is large. Every place gets 4 out of 5 stars, ultimately making the tool and results totally useless.But when you observe and count it yourself, something else happens. It changes behavior — the “observe effect” in physics. Imagine writing down everything you eat — it will change how and what you consume. Those data points can only be seen in your own personal context. The patterns are what you think you see. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing — but it is a far cry from creating universal truths.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Im focused on the observe effect