Embrace complexity. What made cheap marketing infographics so popular is probably their biggest contradiction: the false claim that a couple of pictograms and a few big numbers have the innate power to “simplify complexity.”
One size does not fit all. Business intelligence tools and dataviz tools for marketers have led many to believe that the ideal way to make sense of information is to load data into a tool, pick from among a list of suggested out-of-the-box charts, and get the job done in a couple of clicks. This common approach is actually nothing more than blindly throwing technology at the problem, sometimes without spending enough time framing the question that triggered the exploration in the first place. This often leads to results that are not only practically useless, but also deeply wrong, because prepackaged solutions are rarely able to frame problems that are difficult to define, let alone solve.
Sketching with data?…in a way, removing technology from the equation before bringing it back to finalize the design with digital tools ?introduces novel ways of thinking, and leads to designs that are uniquely customized for the specific type of data problems we are working with.
What a refreshing perspective on data and information design. It’s a fairly long article – about a 10-minute read, but well worth it, in fact worth reading at least twice because there’s so many insightful ideas here. If there’s an underlying message here, it’s that that we should devote the time to enhancing our human knowledge and skills for understanding complexity, and not relying on technology to do it all for us.
Spotted originally by my colleague Conrad Taylor, a geospatial application that plots more than 400 homicide cases reported by court reports and the Old Bailey’s archives. Something for the ‘gruesome violence’ mashup category maybe. You can even do deep dive query’s according to the type of murder weapon used, e.g. ligature, knife, gun, etc.
According to the website, the ‘murdermap’ project is dedicated to covering every single case of murder and manslaughter in London from crime to conviction. It aims to create the first ever comprehensive picture of homicide in the modern city by building a database stretching from the era of Jack the Ripper in the late 19th Century to the present day and beyond.
Information is obtained from the police, media coverage, court records and original reporting – and by making the map freely available the site’s owners hope to reveal the stories behind the crime figures.
I’m not quite sure of the utility of this data, other than to criminology researchers, though I guess it might be useful for the housing market, e.g. “am I moving to/living in an area where I’m more likely to be shot or stabbed?” Come to think of it, I’ll check that out!
“Maybe it shows there is a fate worse than death – being mashed up afterwards.” CT
What is the future for the Information Professional? ‘Big Data’, open data, linked data, data visualisation, social technology. Data and information is coming at us from all directions and in a variety of formats. Are we managing all of this, or is it managing us? This presentation, recently given to the Information Management Directorate of the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office is a small peak at a huge topic and is aimed at providing a broad perspective of the (information) changes happening around us, and the challenges (opportunities) they present.
This blog post is to thank all of the participants (presenters and delegates) to the Knowledge Hub Data & Apps workshop that was held in London yesterday (27 April 2011). The workshop was used to establish the foundations for the “KHub Data and Apps Advisory Group”, who we are hoping will help us to shape the forthcoming data/apps developments for the Knowledge Hub.
As readers of my previous posts about the Knowledge Hub may be aware, the first (Beta) release will go live next month (May – exact date TBD). This represents the completion of Sprint 9 of 22, which delivers the collaboration tools and facilities (blogs, wikis, library, events, people-finder, library, web conferencing, activity streams etc.). [NB. Sprints are the functional elements delivered as part of an agile development process].
The remainder of the Sprints will be delivering key data intelligence/data management features, including:
1. Semantic Matching Engine
Will match aggregated conversations, communities and topics to people;
Will suggest connections between people
Will recommend content according to explicit and implicit profile data
2. Data library/catalogue
Can upload data/datasets in semi-structured and machine readable formats (e.g. Excel, CSV, XML)
Can identify and catalogue external (e.g. open and/or linked) datasets
Ability to create/edit metadata for each dataset (e.g. for provenance, licensing etc.)
Datasets can be permissioned.
Datasets will be indexed by the KHub search engine
3. Mashup Engine
Allows users to combine or compare data (meaningful comparisons will require a common schema)
Data can be ‘mashed’ using KHub-sourced data and external data sources.
Support for data visualisations
Features similar to mashup.org
Will use open source mapping services
Potential to provide index of SPARQL end-points
4. App Store
Supports any app compliant with the OpenSocial standard
Mashups developed on KHub can be simply added to the App Store
Will include reviews and star ratings
Support for free and commercial (licensed) apps
Apps will be able to use data from both Khub (via an API) and/or external sources
Requirements to be refined, but intention is to be able to support triple-stores (RDF/SPARQL) and XQuery/XML)
All of the above is scheduled to be developed and released between June and October this year. The Data & Apps Advisory Group will be instrumental in shaping these features and capabilities, as well as providing advice on the underlying support and operational procedures, and skills/training needs.
Terms of Reference for the Data & Apps Advisory Group is in the attached PDF. If anyone with the appropriate skills and knowledge wishes to be involved in this group, then please let me know (add your expression of interest into the comments section of this blog).
I will post an update to this blog once the full report from the workshop is available.