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jerryking : sense-making   41

US declining interest in history presents risk to democracy
May 2, 2019 | Financial Times | by Edward Luce.

America today has found a less bloodthirsty way of erasing its memory by losing interest in its past. From an already low base, the number of American students majoring in history has dropped by more than a third since 2008. Barely one in two hundred American undergraduates now specialise in history......Donald Trump is a fitting leader for such times. He had to be told who Andrew Jackson was.....He also seems to think that Frederick Douglass, the escaped slave and 19th century abolitionist, is among us still.....But America’s 45th president can hardly be blamed for history’s unpopularity. Culpability for that precedes Mr Trump and is spread evenly between liberals, conservatives, faculty and parents........Courses on intellectual, diplomatic and political history are being replaced at some of America’s best universities by culture studies that highlight grievances at the expense of breadth.......Then there is the drumbeat of STEM — science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Most US states now mandate tests only in maths and English, at the expense of history and civic education...... In a recent survey, only 26 per cent of Americans could identify all three branches of government. More than half could not name a single justice on the US Supreme Court.....
the biggest culprit is the widespread belief that “soft skills” — such as philosophy and English, which are both in similar decline to history — do not lead to well-paid jobs.....folk prejudice against history is hard to shake. In an ever more algorithmic world, people believe that humanities are irrelevant. The spread of automation should put a greater premium on qualities that computers lack, such as intuitive intelligence, management skills and critical reasoning. Properly taught that is what a humanities education provides.......People ought to be able to grasp the basic features of their democracy. [Abiding] Faith in a historic theory only fuels a false sense of certainty....What may work for individual careers poses a collective risk to US democracy. The demise of strong civics coincides with waning voter turnout, a decline in joining associations, fewer citizen’s initiatives — and other qualities once associated with American vigour......There is no scientific metric for gullibility. Nor can we quantitatively prove that civic ignorance imposes a political cost on society. These are questions of judgment. But if America’s origins tell us anything it is that a well-informed citizenry creates a stronger society.
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here is what robots can't do -- create art, deep meaning, move our souls, help us to understand and thus operate in the world, inspire deeper thought, care for one another, help the environment where we live.......The role of the human is not to be dispassionate, depersonalized or neutral. It is precisely the emotive traits that are rewarded: the voracious lust for understanding, the enthusiasm for work, the ability to grasp the gist, the empathetic sensitivity to what will attract attention and linger in the mind. Unable to compete when it comes to calculation, the best workers will come with heart in hand.
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algorithms  automation  citizen_engagement  civics  Colleges_&_Universities  critical_thinking  democracy  Donald_Trump  Edward_Luce  empathy  engaged_citizenry  false_sense_of_certainty  foundational  historians  history  historical_amnesia  humanities  ignorance  political_literacy  sense-making  soft_skills  STEM  threats  U.S.  vulnerabilities 
may 2019 by jerryking
Piecing Together Narratives From the 0′s and 1′s: Storytelling in the Age of Big Data - CIO Journal. - WSJ
Feb 16, 2018 | WSJ | By Irving Wladawsky-Berger.

Probabilities are inherently hard to grasp, especially for an individual event like a war or an election, ......Why is it so hard for people to deal with probabilities in everyday life? “I think part of the answer lies with Kahneman’s insight: Human beings need a story,”....Mr. Kahneman explained their research in his 2011 bestseller Thinking, Fast and Slow. Its central thesis is that our mind is composed of two very different systems of thinking. System 1 is the intuitive, fast and emotional part of our mind. Thoughts come automatically and very quickly to System 1, without us doing anything to make them happen. System 2, on the other hand, is the slower, logical, more deliberate part of the mind. It’s where we evaluate and choose between multiple options, because only System 2 can think of multiple things at once and shift its attention between them.

System 1 typically works by developing a coherent story based on the observations and facts at its disposal. Research has shown that the intuitive System 1 is actually more influential in our decisions, choices and judgements than we generally realize. But, while enabling us to act quickly, System 1 is prone to mistakes. It tends to be overconfident, creating the impression that we live in a world that’s more coherent and simpler than the actual real world. It suppresses complexity and information that might contradict its coherent story.

Making sense of probabilities, numbers and graphs requires us to engage System 2, which, for most everyone, takes quite a bit of focus, time and energy. Thus, most people will try to evaluate the information using a System 1 simple story: who will win the election? who will win the football game?.....Storytelling has played a central role in human communications since times immemorial. Over the centuries, the nature of storytelling has significantly evolved with the advent of writing and the emergence of new technologies that enabled stories to be embodied in a variety of media, including books, films, and TV. Everything else being equal, stories are our preferred way of absorbing information.

“It’s not enough to say an event has a 10 percent probability,” wrote Mr. Leonhardt. “People need a story that forces them to visualize the unlikely event – so they don’t round 10 to zero.”.....
in_the_real_world  storytelling  massive_data_sets  probabilities  Irving_Wladawsky-Berger  Communicating_&_Connecting  Daniel_Kahneman  complexity  uncertainty  decision_making  metacognition  data_journalism  sense-making  thinking_deliberatively 
february 2018 by jerryking
With 125 Ph.D.s in 15 Countries, a Quant ‘Alpha Factory’ Hunts for Investing Edge - WSJ
By BRADLEY HOPE
Updated April 6, 2017

The firm is part of the forefront of a new quantitative renaissance in investing, where the ability to make sense of billions of bits of data in real time is more sought after than old-school financial analysis.

“Brilliance is very equally distributed across the world, but opportunity is not,” said Mr. Tulchinsky, a 50-year-old Belarusian. “We provide the opportunity.”

To do this, WorldQuant developed a model where it employs hundreds of scientists, including 125 Ph.D.s, around the world and hundreds more part-time workers to scour the noise of the economy and markets for hidden patterns. This is the heart of the firm. Mr. Tulchinsky calls it the “Alpha Factory.”....Quantitative hedge funds have been around for decades but they are becoming dominant players in the markets for their ability to parse massive data sets and trade rapidly. Amid huge outflows, traditional hedge funds are bringing aboard chief data scientists and trying to mimic quant techniques to keep up, fund executives say.

Some critics of quants believe their strategies are overhyped and are highly susceptible to finding false patterns in the noise of data. David Leinweber, a data scientist, famously found that the data set with the highest correlation with the S&P 500 over a 10-year period in the 1990s was butter production in Bangladesh.
quantitative  Wall_Street  PhDs  alpha  investors  slight_edge  massive_data_sets  signals  noise  data_scientists  real-time  algorithms  patterns  sense-making  quants  unevenly_distributed  WorldQuant 
april 2017 by jerryking
In a world gone mad, the arts matter more than ever - The Globe and Mail
MARSHA LEDERMAN
VANCOUVER — The Globe and Mail
Published Friday, Jul. 29, 2016

The arts can open onto a new point of view, a different way of looking at someone or something - a deeper, broader range of ideas. They can offer more to think about and with, they can inspire, console and at necessary times, offered peace.
arts  creative_renewal  sense-making 
july 2016 by jerryking
Leadership Means Learning to Look Behind the Mask - The New York Times
JAN. 30, 2016 | NYT | By BARBARA MISTICK.

Don't wait until it's too late to solicit feedback. Ms. Mistick was named president and director of Andrew Carnegie’s public library system in Pittsburgh, becoming only the second nonlibrarian to lead the system in over 110 years. She went in knowing that she was considered an outsider and that she would need to call on all her interpersonal and communication skills to navigate her new position. The problem is, the higher your position in an organization, the harder it is to receive honest assessments from the people who work for you, because the balance of authority shifts. ...The search for genuine feedback is increasingly your own responsibility.... In a culture of scarce resources, people had become guarded with their opinions. ....Mistick felt that everyone except her knew what was expected to succeed in “library land.” New jobs always present the challenge of how to read the norms, standards and expectations that aren’t explicitly told to new hires....When seeking input on specific skills, the 360-degree management assessment tool is a great starting place. When you want insights on the most important priorities for personal change, it takes honest conversation with those who know you best at work....We each have more control of our future than we recognize. One of the most powerful ways we can take charge of developing new skills is to ask for feedback.
leadership  women  CEOs  Communicating_&_Connecting  sense-making  performance_reviews  people_skills  Pittsburgh  libraries  anonymity  feedback  first90days  self-improvement  outsiders  tacit_knowledge  insights 
january 2016 by jerryking
How Not to Drown in Numbers - NYTimes.com
MAY 2, 2015| NYT |By ALEX PEYSAKHOVICH and SETH STEPHENS-DAVIDOWITZ.

If you’re trying to build a self-driving car or detect whether a picture has a cat in it, big data is amazing. But here’s a secret: If you’re trying to make important decisions about your health, wealth or happiness, big data is not enough.

The problem is this: The things we can measure are never exactly what we care about. Just trying to get a single, easy-to-measure number higher and higher (or lower and lower) doesn’t actually help us make the right choice. For this reason, the key question isn’t “What did I measure?” but “What did I miss?”...So what can big data do to help us make big decisions? One of us, Alex, is a data scientist at Facebook. The other, Seth, is a former data scientist at Google. There is a special sauce necessary to making big data work: surveys and the judgment of humans — two seemingly old-fashioned approaches that we will call small data....For one thing, many teams ended up going overboard on data. It was easy to measure offense and pitching, so some organizations ended up underestimating the importance of defense, which is harder to measure. In fact, in his book “The Signal and the Noise,” Nate Silver of fivethirtyeight.com estimates that the Oakland A’s were giving up 8 to 10 wins per year in the mid-1990s because of their lousy defense.

And data-driven teams found out the hard way that scouts were actually important...We are optimists about the potential of data to improve human lives. But the world is incredibly complicated. No one data set, no matter how big, is going to tell us exactly what we need. The new mountains of blunt data sets make human creativity, judgment, intuition and expertise more valuable, not less.

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From Market Research: Safety Not Always in Numbers | Qualtrics ☑
Author: Qualtrics|July 28, 2010

Albert Einstein once said, “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” [Warning of the danger of overquantification) Although many market research experts would say that quantitative research is the safest bet when one has limited resources, it can be dangerous to assume that it is always the best option.
human_ingenuity  data  analytics  small_data  massive_data_sets  data_driven  information_overload  dark_data  measurements  creativity  judgment  intuition  Nate_Silver  expertise  datasets  information_gaps  unknowns  underestimation  infoliteracy  overlooked_opportunities  sense-making  easy-to-measure  Albert_Einstein  special_sauce  metrics  overlooked  defensive_tactics  emotional_intelligence  EQ  soft_skills  overquantification  false_confidence 
may 2015 by jerryking
In the Age of Information, Specializing to Survive - NYTimes.com
By J. PEDER ZANEMARCH 19, 2015

Artists from Picasso to Bob Dylan and entrepreneurs including Bill Gates and Steve Jobs changed the world by finding “radically new ways of looking at old problems,” Mr. Galenson said. “They cut through all the accumulated stuff — forget what’s been done — to see something special, something new.”

It is why, Mr. Galenson added, the historian and physicist Stanley Goldberg said of Einstein, “It was almost as if he were wearing special glasses to make all that was irrelevant invisible."
polymaths  Renaissance  information_overload  fresh_eyes  specialization  sense-making  reconceptualization  Pablo_Picasso  Bob_Dylan  billgates  Steve_Jobs 
march 2015 by jerryking
Skills in Flux - NYTimes.com
MARCH 17, 2015| NYT |David Brooks.

As the economy changes, the skills required to thrive in it change, too, and it takes a while before these new skills are defined and acknowledged.

For example, in today’s loosely networked world, people with social courage have amazing value. Everyone goes to conferences and meets people, but some people invite six people to lunch afterward and follow up with four carefully tended friendships forevermore. Then they spend their lives connecting people across networks.

People with social courage are extroverted in issuing invitations but introverted in conversation — willing to listen 70 percent of the time.
David_Brooks  skills  networking  social_courage  Communicating_&_Connecting  conferences  sense-making  indispensable  Managing_Your_Career  21st._century  new_graduates  following_up 
march 2015 by jerryking
Intellectual maestro craves connections as NACO’s music director - The Globe and Mail
ROBERT EVERETT-GREEN
The Globe and Mail
Published Friday, Feb. 27 2015,

The energetic Englishman’s conversation, during a short visit to Toronto, is full of the language of linkage and cross-reference. Just about everything good can be made better, in his view, if the connections between things, people and ideas are stronger... if classical music isn’t reaching parts of the population, he says, it’s because those who perform aren’t doing enough to make links between the music, its history and the way we live today. “I only really connect to a piece of music when I read around it, I mean the broad social context.”

Connecting dots is a familiar theme in the arts and in arts promotion these days, but Shelley is quite willing to chase it into the corners, as they say in hockey. ....tell a compelling story which helps to solve a problem (Daniel Doctoroff--Bloomberg's guy)
music  Communicating_&_Connecting  Ottawa  cultural_institutions  connecting_the_dots  artists  orchestras_&_symphonies  classical_music  CEOs  sense-making  contextual  cross-pollination  interconnections 
march 2015 by jerryking
The trick to making sense of Big Data - The Globe and Mail
TED WRIGHT
Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Monday, Jan. 26 2015,
massive_data_sets  books  howto  sense-making 
january 2015 by jerryking
The Data Companies Wish They Had About Customers - WSJ
March 23, 2014 | WSJ | by Max Taves.

We asked companies what data they wish they had—and how they would use it. Here's what they said....
(A) Dining----Graze.com has a huge appetite for data. Every hour, the mail-order snack business digests 15,000 user ratings about its foods, which it uses to better understand what its customers like or dislike and to predict what else they might like to try...more data could help him understand customers' tastes even better. Among the information he wants most is data about customers' dietary habits, such as what they buy at grocery stores, as well as better information about what they look at on Graze's own site. And because the dietary needs of children change rapidly, he'd like to know if his customers have children and, if so, their ages.
(B) Energy-----Energy consumption is among its customers' main concerns, says CEO William Lynch. For instance, the company offers a product giving homeowners the real-time ability to see things like how many kilowatts it takes to heat the hot tub in Jan. Because of privacy concerns, Savant doesn't collect homeowners' energy data. But if the company knew more about customers' energy use, it could help create customized plans to conserve energy. "We could make recommendations on how to set up your thermostat to save a lot of money,
(C) Banking-----the Bank of the West would like "predictive life-event data" about its customers—like graduation, vacation or retirement plans—to create products more relevant to their financial needs...At this point, collecting that breadth of data is a logistical and regulatory challenge, requiring very different sources both inside and outside the bank.
(D) Appliances-----Whirlpool Corp.has a vast reach in American households—but wants to know more about its customers and how they actually use its products. Real-time use data could not only help shape the future designs of Whirlpool products, but also help the company predict when they're likely to fail.
(E) Healthcare----Explorys creates software for health-care companies to store, access and make sense of their data. It holds a huge trove of clinical, financial and operational information—but would like access to data about patients at home, such as their current blood-sugar and oxygen levels, weight, heart rates and respiratory health. Having access to that information could help providers predict things like hospitalizations, missed appointments and readmissions and proactively reach out to patients,
(F) Healthcare----By analyzing patient data, Carolinas HealthCare System of Charlotte, N.C., can predict readmission rates with 80% accuracy,
(G) Law----law firms that specialize in defense work are typically reactive, however some are working towards becoming more proactive, coveting an ability to predict lawsuits—and prevent them.How? By analyzing reams of contracts and looking for common traits and language that often lead to problems.
(H) Defense---BAE Systems PLC invests heavily in protecting itself from cyberattacks. But it says better data from its suppliers could help improve its defenses...if its suppliers get cyberattacked, its own h/w and s/w could be compromised. But "those suppliers are smaller businesses with lesser investments in their security," ...A lack of trust among suppliers, even those that aren't direct competitors, means only a small percentage of them disclose the data showing the cyberattacks on their systems. Sharing that data, he says, would strengthen the security of every product BAE makes. [BAE is expressing recognition of its vulnerability to network risk].
data  data_driven  massive_data_sets  Graze  banking  cyber_security  BAE  law_firms  Whirlpool  genomics  social_data  appliances  sense-making  predictive_analytics  dark_data  insights  customer_insights  real-time  design  failure  cyberattacks  hiring-a-product-to-do-a-specific-job  network_risk  shifting_tastes  self-protection  distrust  supply_chains 
november 2014 by jerryking
Tame big data and you'll reap the rewards - The Globe and Mail
HARVEY SCHACHTER
Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Tuesday, Apr. 15 2014

“It’s a catchall term for data that doesn’t fit the usual containers. Big data refers to data that is too big to fit on a single server, too unstructured to fit into a row-and-column database, or too continuously flowing to fit into a static data warehouse. While its size receives all the attention, the most difficult aspect of big data really involves its lack of structure,”....He cites some industries that have big data but aren’t making proper use of it. Banks have massive amounts of information about their customers but have been underachievers in helping them make sense of it all and presenting targeted marketing offers. Retailers have purchase behaviour information from their point-of-sales systems but, with the exception of Wal-Mart and Britain’s Tesco, haven’t done a lot until recently.
Harvey_Schachter  Thomas_Davenport  banks  retailers  massive_data_sets  behavioural_data  books  book_reviews  unstructured_data  analytics  competingonanalytics  sense-making  point-of-sale  Wal-Mart  Tesco 
june 2014 by jerryking
The Power of 'Thick' Data - WSJ.com
By
Christian Madsbjerg and
Mikkel B. Rasmussen
March 21, 2014

companies that rely too much on the numbers, graphs and factoids of Big Data risk insulating themselves from the rich, qualitative reality of their customers' everyday lives. They can lose the ability to imagine and intuit how the world—and their own businesses—might be evolving. By outsourcing our thinking to Big Data, our ability to make sense of the world by careful observation begins to wither, just as you miss the feel and texture of a new city by navigating it only with the help of a GPS.

Successful companies and executives work to understand the emotional, even visceral context in which people encounter their product or service, and they are able to adapt when circumstances change. They are able to use what we like to call Thick Data.
thick_data  massive_data_sets  Lego  ethnography  visceral  storytelling  social_data  observations  Samsung  consumer_research  imagination  skepticism  challenges  problems  sense-making  emotions  contextual 
march 2014 by jerryking
What Machines Can’t Do - NYTimes.com
FEB. 3, 2014 | NYT | David Brooks.
here is what robots can't do -- create art, deep meaning, move our souls, help us to understand and thus operate in the world, inspire deeper thought, care for one another, help the environment where we live
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We’re clearly heading into an age of brilliant technology.computers are increasingly going to be able to perform important parts of even mostly cognitive jobs, like picking stocks, diagnosing diseases and granting parole.

As this happens, certain mental skills will become less valuable because computers will take over (e.g. memorization)

what human skills will be more valuable? The age of brilliant machines seems to reward a few traits. First, it rewards enthusiasm, people driven to perform extended bouts of concentration, diving into and trying to make sense of these bottomless information oceans. Second, the era seems to reward people with extended time horizons and strategic discipline. Third, the age seems to reward procedural architects (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, etc. , people who can design an architecture/platform that allows other people to express ideas or to collaborate. Fourth, people who can organize a decentralized network around a clear question, without letting it dissipate or clump, will have enormous value. Fifth, essentialists will probably be rewarded--the ability to grasp the essence of one thing, and then the essence of some very different thing, and smash them together to create some entirely new thing. Sixth, the computer is the computer. The role of the human is not to be dispassionate, depersonalized or neutral. It is precisely the emotive traits that are rewarded: the voracious lust for understanding, the enthusiasm for work, the ability to grasp the gist, the empathetic sensitivity to what will attract attention and linger in the mind. Unable to compete when it comes to calculation, the best workers will come with heart in hand.
David_Brooks  Erik_Brynjolfsson  career_paths  MIT  emotions  empathy  problem_solving  persuasion  Andrew_McAfee  Communicating_&_Connecting  indispensable  skills  Managing_Your_Career  21st._century  new_graduates  focus  long-term  self-discipline  lateral_thinking  sense-making  platforms 
february 2014 by jerryking
Busy and Busier
Oct 24 2012 | The Atlantic | James Fallows.

a lot of people are feeling overwhelmed is because people are not in true survival or crisis mode as often as they have been in much of our history. The interesting thing about crisis is that it actually produces a type of serenity. Why? Because in a crisis, people have to integrate all kinds of information that’s potentially relevant, they have to make decisions quickly, they have to then trust their intuitive judgment calls in the moment. They have to act. They’re constantly course-correcting based on data that’s coming up, and they’re very focused on some outcome, usually live—you know, survive. Don’t burn up. Don’t die.

But as soon as you’re not in a crisis, all the rest of the world floods into your psyche. Now you’re worried about taxes and tires and “I’m getting a cold” and “My printer just crapped out.” Now that flood is coming across in electronic form, and it is 24/7.....The thing about nature is, it’s information rich, but the meaningful things in nature are relatively few—berries, bears and snakes, thunderstorms, maybe poison oak. There are only a few things in nature that force me to change behavior or make a decision. The problem with e-mail is that it’s not just information; it’s the need for potential action. It’s the berries and snakes and bears, but they’re embedded, and you don’t know what’s in each one....Things on your mind need to be externalized—captured in some system that you trust. You capture things that are potentially meaningful; you clarify what those things mean to you; and you need maps of all that, so you can see it from a larger perspective. With better technology, I’d like a set of maps—maps of my maps. Then I could say, “Okay, which map do I want to work on right now? Do I want to work on my family map, because I’ve got family members coming over for dinner?” Then you can drill down into “Oh, my niece is coming. She likes this food, her favorite color is pink, her dog is named …” Then you can back off and say, “That’s enough of that map. What’s the next map I want to see?” Or: “I’d just like to read some poetry right now.”
busy_work  course_correction  crisis  David_Allen  GTD  human_psyche  information_overload  James_Fallows  living_in_the_moment  mapping  metacognition  metadata  metaphysical  monotasking  productivity  nature  noise  overwhelmed  sense-making  signals  stress_response 
november 2013 by jerryking
Meet Bloomberg's data-driven Daniel Doctoroff
Aug. 09 2013 | The Globe and Mail |JOANNA SLATER.

Mr. Doctoroff’s job, as deputy mayor for economic development, would include rebuilding the site and pushing ahead with projects envisaged in the Olympic bid....Founded by Mr. Bloomberg in 1982, the firm grew into a global juggernaut that disrupted every field it touched, from market data to financial journalism....Mr. Doctoroff had a yen for precision and a belief in the power of data. To eliminate clutter on his desk, he never touches a piece of paper twice. “I either delegate something, I dump it, or I deal with it,”...Mr. Doctoroff’s mission at Bloomberg is twofold. The first is to sell more terminals – a subscription service that costs more than $20,000 (U.S.) a year per person and offers access to an expanding universe of data, analytical tools and news. Last year was a tough one for terminal sales; Wall Street firms continued to shed staff in what Mr. Doctoroff describes as “the fourth year of post-financial crisis adjustment.”

The second task is to lead the company into other areas and make those investments pay off. Bloomberg has launched what it hopes will become indispensable data products for fields like law and government and also for back-office personnel within finance. Then there’s the media business, which includes a news service, television, radio and magazines, among them Bloomberg Businessweek, which was purchased in 2009. Businessweek still isn’t profitable, but it’s losing much less money than it used to. The magazine, like the rest of the news operation, serves another objective in the Bloomberg ecosystem, Mr. Doctoroff said: heightening the firm’s profile so it can attract more market-moving scoops, which in turn helps to sell more terminals....On his career path: I believe we’re all endowed with a very small set of narrow skills that make us unique. You’ve got to find what that is. Most often what you truly understand makes you unique is something that you’re also going to build passion around. For me – and I didn’t really discover this until I was in my 40s, the line that connected the dots … [is] seeing patterns in numbers that enable me to tell a compelling story which helps to solve a problem. So whether it is helping a candidate get elected or doing a road show for a company, getting a project done in New York or hopefully setting a vision for a company, it’s that narrow skill.
New_York_City  Bloomberg  data_driven  precision  CEOs  organizational_culture  Wall_Street  private_equity  digital_media  disruption  privately_held_companies  Michael_Bloomberg  fin-tech  journalism  pattern_recognition  career_paths  gtd  mayoral  Daniel_Doctoroff  storytelling  product_launches  sense-making  leadership  insights  leaders  statistics  persuasion  ratios  analogies  back-office  connecting_the_dots  scoops  financial_journalism  financial_data  special_sauce  non-routine  skills 
august 2013 by jerryking
The Secret Life of Data in the Year 2020
July-August 2012 | World Future Society Vol. 46, No. 4 |By Brian David Johnson.

A futurist for Intel shows how geotags, sensor outputs, and big data are changing the future. He argues that we need a better understanding of our relationship with the data we produce in order to build the future we want....Data is only useful and indeed powerful when it comes into contact with people.

This brings up some interesting questions and fascinating problems to be solved from an engineering standpoint. When we are architecting these algorithms, when we are designing these systems, how do we make sure they have an understanding of what it means to be human? The people writing these algorithms must have an understanding of what people will do with that data. How will it fit into their lives? How will it affect their daily routine? How will it make their lives better?...the only way to make sense of all this complex information—by viewing data, massive data sets, and the algorithms that really utilize big data as being human. Data doesn’t spring full formed from nowhere. Data is created, generated, and recorded. And the unifying principle behind all of this data is that it was all created by humans. We create the data, so essentially our data is an extension of ourselves, an extension of our humanity.
future  data  algorithms  Intel  sensors  massive_data_sets  storytelling  ethnography  questions  sense-making 
july 2013 by jerryking
Working With Big Data: The New Math - WSJ.com
March 8, 2013| WSJ | By DEBORAH GAGE.

Researchers turn to esoteric mathematics to help make sense of it all.

New views [of old data are arriving] came courtesy of software that uses topology, a branch of math that compresses relationships in complex data into shapes researchers can manipulate and probe....

Better Tools
Seeking better tools than traditional statistical methods to analyze the vast amounts of data newly available to companies and organizations, researchers increasingly are scouring scientific papers and esoteric branches of mathematics like topology to make sense of complex data sets. The developer of the software used by Dr. Lum, Ayasdi, is just one of a small but growing number of companies working in this field.

So much data is now available, in such vast scope and minute detail, it is no longer useful to look at numbers neatly laid out in two-dimensional columns and rows,.....The research that inspired Ayasdi was funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or Darpa, and the National Science Foundation.......Data is so complex that using the same old methods, asking the same old questions, doesn't make sense....What is useful, he says, is to look at data arranged in shapes, using topology.

Topology is a form of geometry that relies on the way humans perceive shapes. We can see that an A is an A even when the letters are squashed or written in different fonts. Topology helps researchers look at a set of data and think about its similarities, even when some of the underlying details may be different....But topology is just one of the new methods being explored. Chris Kemp, former chief technology officer for IT at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and now the chief executive of cloud computing company Nebula Inc., says he expects to see a renaissance in advanced mathematics and algorithms as companies increasingly realize how valuable data is and how cheaply they can store it.......Using graph theory, a tool similar to topology, IBM is mapping interactions of people on social networks, including its own. In diagrams based on the communications traffic, each person is a node, and communications between people are links. Graph-theory algorithms help discover the shortest path between the nodes, and thus reveal social cliques—or subcommunities—which show up because the cliques are more tightly interconnected than the community around them.......Tellagence's algorithms, for example, predicts how information will travel as it moves through social networks, but assumes that the network will change constantly, like the weather, and that what's most important about the data is the context in which it appears.

These techniques helped Tellagence do a bit of detective work for a Silicon Valley company that wanted to track down the source of some influential ideas being discussed online about the kind of integrated circuits it makes, known as field programmable gate arrays. Tellagence identified a group of more than 100 Japanese engineers involved in online discussions about the circuits. It then pinpointed two or three people whom traffic patterns showed were at the center of the conversation.

Tellagence's customer then devised a strategy to approach the engineers and potentially benefit from their ideas.

Says Tellagence CEO Matt Hixson, "We love to talk about people who have followers or friends, but these engineers were none of that—they had the right set of relationships because the right people listened to them."
algorithms  Ayasdi  DARPA  esoteric  IBM  infographics  massive_data_sets  mapping  mathematics  Nebula  networks  patterns  sense-making  Tellagence  the_right_people  tools  topology  visualization 
march 2013 by jerryking
The Financial Bonanza of Big Data
March 7, 2013 | WSJ | By KENNETH CUKIER AND VIKTOR MAYER-SCHÖNBERGER:
Vast troves of information are manipulated and monetized, yet companies have a hard time assigning value to it...The value of information captured today is increasingly in the myriad secondary uses to which it is put—not just the primary purpose for which it was collected.[True, but this secondary or exhaust data has to be placed in the right context in order to maximize value]. In the past, shopkeepers kept a record of all transactions so that they could tally the sums at the end of the day. The sales data were used to understand sales. Only more recently have retailers parsed those records to look for business trends...With big data, information is more potent, and it can be applied to areas unconnected with what it initially represented. Health officials could use Google's history of search queries—for things like cough syrup or sneezes—to track the spread of the seasonal flu in the United States. The Bank of England has used Google searches as a leading indicator for housing prices in the United Kingdom. Other central banks have studied search queries as a gauge for changes in unemployment.

Companies world-wide are starting to understand that no matter what industry they are in, data is among their most precious assets. Harnessed cleverly, the data can unleash new forms of economic value.
massive_data_sets  Amazon  books  Google  branding  Facebook  Wal-Mart  Bank_of_England  data  data_driven  value_creation  JCK  exhaust_data  commercialization  monetization  valuations  windfalls  alternative_data  economic_data  tacit_data  interpretation  contextual  sense-making  tacit_knowledge 
march 2013 by jerryking
Value of big data depends on context
According to Hayek, it is not only localised and dispersed knowledge, but also tacit knowledge that is crucial for the functioning of the market system. Often, useful localised knowledge is tacit. By definition, tacit knowledge cannot be articulated and mechanically transferred to other individuals.[See Paul Graham on doing things that don't scale] Companies and governments have become more successful in collecting large volumes of data but it is nearly impossible to capture useful tacit knowledge by these data collection methods.

Furthermore, the value of big data is not about the volume and the amount of collected data but it depends on our ability to understand and interpret the data. As human faculties of interpretation and understanding differ greatly, the value of big data is subjective and dependent on particular context. Ironically, the skillful use of big data may require tacit knowledge.
data_collection  letters_to_the_editor  massive_data_sets  Friedrich_Hayek  tacit_data  contextual  sense-making  interpretation  tacit_knowledge  valuations  Paul_Graham  unscalability 
february 2013 by jerryking
Profile of the Data Journalist: The Storyteller and The Teacher
Around the globe, the bond between data and journalism is growing stronger. In an age of big data, the growing importance of data journalism lies in the ability of its practitioners to provide context, clarity and, perhaps most important, find truth in the expanding amount of digital content in the world. In that context, data journalism has profound importance for society.

To learn more about the people who are doing this work and, in some cases, building the newsroom stack for the 21st century, I conducted in-person and email interviews during the 2012 NICAR Conference and published a series of data journalist profiles here at Radar.

Sarah Cohen (@sarahduke), the Knight professor of the practice of journalism and public policy at Duke University, and Anthony DeBarros (@AnthonyDB), the senior database editor at USA Today, were both important sources of historical perspective for my feature on how data journalism is evolving from "computer-assisted reporting" (CAR) to a powerful Web-enabled practice that uses cloud computing, machine learning and algorithms to make sense of unstructured data.

The latter halves of our interviews, which focused upon their personal and professional experience, follow.

What data journalism project are you the most proud of working on or creating?

DeBarros: "In 2006, my USA TODAY colleague Robert Davis and I built a database of 620 students killed on or near college campuses and mined it to show how freshmen were uniquely vulnerable. It was a heart-breaking but vitally important story to tell. We won the 2007 Missouri Lifestyle Journalism Awards for the piece, and followed it with an equally wrenching look at student deaths from fires."

Cohen: "I'd have to say the Pulitzer-winning series on child deaths in DC, in which we documented that children were dying in predictable circumstances after key mistakes by people who knew that their
agencies had specific flaws that could let them fall through the cracks.

I liked working on the Post's POTUS Tracker and Head Count. Those were Web projects that were geared at accumulating lots of little bits about Obama's schedule and his appointees, respectively, that we could share with our readers while simultaneously building an important dataset for use down the road. Some of the Post's Solyndra and related stories, I have heard, came partly from studying the president's trips in POTUS Tracker.

There was one story, called "Misplaced Trust," on DC's guardianship
system, that created immediate change in Superior Court, which was
gratifying. "Harvesting Cash," our 18-month project on farm subsidies, also helped point out important problems in that system.

The last one, I'll note, is a piece of a project I worked on,
in which the DC water authority refused to release the results of a
massive lead testing effort, which in turn had shown widespread
contamination. We got the survey from a source, but it was on paper.

After scanning, parsing, and geocoding, we sent out a team of reporters to
neighborhoods to spot check the data, and also do some reporting on the
neighborhoods. We ended up with a story about people who didn't know what
was near them.

We also had an interesting experience: the water
authority called our editor to complain that we were going to put all of
the addresses online -- they felt that it was violating peoples' privacy,
even though we weren't identifyng the owners or the residents. It was more
important to them that we keep people in the dark about their blocks. Our
editor at the time, Len Downie, said, "you're right. We shouldn't just put
it on the Web." He also ordered up a special section to put them all in
print.

Where do you turn to keep your skills updated or learn new things?

Cohen: "It's actually a little harder now that I'm out of the newsroom,
surprisingly. Before, I would just dive into learning something when I'd
heard it was possible and I wanted to use it to get to a story. Now I'm
less driven, and I have to force myself a little more. I'm hoping to start
doing more reporting again soon, and that the Reporters' Lab will help
there too.

Lately, I've been spending more time with people from other
disciplines to understand better what's possible, like machine learning
and speech recognition at Carnegie Mellon and MIT, or natural language
processing at Stanford. I can't DO them, but getting a chance to
understand what's out there is useful. NewsFoo, SparkCamp and NICAR are
the three places that had the best bang this year. I wish I could have
gone to Strata, even if I didn't understand it all."

DeBarros: For surveillance, I follow really smart people on Twitter and have several key Google Reader subscriptions.

To learn, I spend a lot of time training after work hours. I've really been pushing myself in the last couple of years to up my game and stay relevant, particularly by learning Python, Linux and web development. Then I bring it back to the office and use it for web scraping and app building.

Why are data journalism and "news apps" important, in the context of the contemporary digital environment for information?

Cohen: "I think anything that gets more leverage out of fewer people is
important in this age, because fewer people are working full time holding
government accountable. The news apps help get more eyes on what the
government is doing by getting more of what we work with and let them see
it. I also think it helps with credibility -- the 'show your work' ethos --
because it forces newsrooms to be more transparent with readers / viewers.

For instance, now, when I'm judging an investigative prize, I am quite
suspicious of any project that doesn't let you see each item, I.e., when
they say, "there were 300 cases that followed this pattern," I want to see
all 300 cases, or all cases with the 300 marked, so I can see whether I
agree.

DeBarros: "They're important because we're living in a data-driven culture. A data-savvy journalist can use the Twitter API or a spreadsheet to find news as readily as he or she can use the telephone to call a source. Not only that, we serve many readers who are accustomed to dealing with data every day -- accountants, educators, researchers, marketers. If we're going to capture their attention, we need to speak the language of data with authority. And they are smart enough to know whether we've done our research correctly or not.

As for news apps, they're important because -- when done right -- they can make large amounts of data easily understood and relevant to each person using them."

These interviews were edited and condensed for clarity.
Data  Gov_2.0  Publishing  dataproduct  datascience  nicarinterview  via:rahuldave  show_your_work  narratives  sense-making  unstructured_data  data_driven  data_journalism  visualization  infographics 
february 2013 by jerryking
Change or die: could adland be the new Detroit?
Feb 18, 2011|Campaign |Amelia Torode (head of strategy and innovation at VCCP and the chair of the IPA Strategy Group) and Tracey Follows ( head of planning at VCCP)...

As the world changed with the globalisation of markets, the transformative power of digital technologies and a shift in consumer demand, the automotive industry and the city of Detroit did not. At a fundamental level, nothing changed. Detroit failed to adapt, failed to evolve.

We have started to ask ourselves: is adland the new Detroit?

Data: find stories in numbers

It's time to reimagine our role. We're no longer solving problems but investigating mysteries; no longer taking a brief, rather taking on a case. Like a detective, we start with behaviour, looking for patterns and anomalies. We assume that what we're being told is not entirely the "truth" so search for information that is given from various perspectives and tend to believe our eyes more than our ears.

Imagine the implications for how we approach data. Seen through the lens of "mystery", we're not simply seeing data as a stream of numbers but as a snapshot of behaviour and an insight into human nature. What we do with data is the same thing we do when we sit on a park bench or at a pavement café - people-watching,albeit from desktops. It's human stories hidden within numbers, and it takes away the fear that surrounds "big data".
shifting_tastes  data-driven  data_journalism  Detroit  advertising_agencies  data  storytelling  massive_data_sets  adaptability  evolution  United_Kingdom  Publicis  managing_change  sense-making  insights  behaviours  patterns  anomalies  assumptions  automotive_industry  human_experience  curiosity  consumer_behavior 
december 2012 by jerryking
Can Museums Help Make Cities More Intelligent?
June 8, 2011 | Center for the Future of Museums |

[L]istening to awesome speakers explore the potential for such systems of ubiquitous, networked data to transform the urban landscape.

Curator Susan Piedmont-Palladino. Susan identified museums’ roles in urban design as provoking active curiosity and increasing “urban literacy,” thereby inspiring people to take action...Here are some interesting nuggets I took away from the day:
(1) Access to data can shift power to the people
Many speakers acknowledged the troubling potential for governments to monitor (and misuse) such rich troves of data on peoples’ movement and activities. However, Judith Rodin, president of the Rockefeller Foundation, pointed out that the “ground up” use of technology enables citizens to band together to prevent government abuse. As an example of ground up citizen tech, she pointed to to Map Kibera, which enables Nairobi slum dwellers (aka “informal occupants”) to create a digital map of the informal economy and residential patterns. Prior to this, the Kenyan government did not recognize or gather data on the slum, depriving its residents of political recognition and services. What issues in your museum’s community might benefit from citizen use of data, and how might a museum help people access and interpret this information?

(2) The future of digital data rights. Caesar McDowell, professor of the Practice of Community Development at MIT, approached data privacy from another angle, proposing creating a Personal Digital Commons, controlling the rights that automatically accrue to data collected via social media. You could apply one of four licenses to the data collected by Facebook, LinkedIn and their ilk: free use; limited negotiated use; collective community use (use of aggregated data for community benefit); or no use. What data does your museum collect from users of your digital platforms, and what options do you give them for controlling how you use this information?

(3) How digital devices influence use of public space
I’ve heard many folks angst over how the use of smart phones, tablets etc. in museums will affect the experience.
museums  cities  urban  networks  data  grass-roots  Nairobi  informal_economy  sense-making  public_spaces  smart_cities  interpretation  engaged_citizenry  deprivations 
december 2012 by jerryking
Analytic Thinking and Presentation for Intelligence Producers.
The importance of a title
How to gist your reading (actually a very helpful section)
The need for focus and clarity
“If you can’t summarize your bottom line in one sentence, you haven’t done your analysis.”
One idea – One Paragraph
The inverted Pyramid writing style, i.e. begin with the core assumption.
The importance of precise language (no jargon, no abbreviations, allow no possible misunderstandings)
Again, there is nothing earth shattering, but it is an interesting read.
DEVELOPING ANALYTICAL OBJECTIVITY
The part that I found most interesting is the section entitled “Developing Analytical Objectivity.”
In a world filled with talk radio and infotainment, it is an important point to raise awareness about.
We have talked extensively about the cognitive nature of our brains and some of the fallacies and tricks our brains play on us – especially in the political arena.
This warning given to some of our country’s brightest thinkers acts as a reminder that if the smartest person in the room must protect against biases, so must we.
focus  clarity  strategic_thinking  critical_thinking  security_&_intelligence  writing  presentations  howto  sense-making  objectivity  biases  Philip_Mudd  analysts  misunderstandings  intelligence_analysts 
october 2012 by jerryking
Making Sense of Ambiguous Evidence
September 2008 | HBR | A Conversation with Documentary Filmmaker Errol Morris.

The information that top managers receive is rarely unfiltered. Unpopular opinions are censored. Partisan views are veiled as objective arguments. Honest mistakes are made. The manager is then left to sort it all out and come to a wise conclusion.

Few people know how to get an accurate read on a situation like documentarian Errol Morris. He is the award-winning director of such films as The Thin Blue Line and this year’s Standard Operating Procedure, an exploration of the elusive truth behind the infamous photographs taken at Abu Ghraib prison. The Guardian has ranked him among the world’s top 10 directors, crediting him with “a forensic mind” and “a painter’s eye.”

In this article, Morris talks with HBR’s Lisa Burrell about how he sorts through ambiguous evidence and contradictory views to arrive at the real story. “I don’t believe in the postmodern notion that there are different kinds of truth,” he says. “There is one objective reality, period.” Getting to it requires keeping your mind open to all kinds of evidence—not just the parts that fit with your first impressions or developing opinions—and, often, far more investigation than one would think.

If finding the truth is a matter of perseverance, convincing people of it is something of an art, one with which Morris has had much experience not only as a documentarian but also as a highly sought-after director of TV ads for companies like Apple, Citibank, Adidas, and Toyota. He holds up John Kerry’s 2004 bid for the U.S. presidency as a cautionary tale: Kerry struck voters as inauthentic when he emphasized only his military service and failed to account for his subsequent war protest. Morris would have liked to interview him speaking in his own words—natural, unscripted material—so that his humanity, which seemed to get lost in the campaign, could emerge.
anecdotal  HBR  executive_management  CEOs  contradictions  information  information_flows  evidence_based  information_gaps  authenticity  sense-making  ambiguities  uncertainty  persuasion  forensics  postmodern  filmmakers  documentaries  judgment  cautionary_tales 
august 2012 by jerryking
Why Should We Care?
January 10, 2008 | WSJ.com | By PHILIPPE DE MONTEBELLO.

We all know art and art museums are important. But when it comes to articulating our reasons for this belief, we find it very difficult. We'd love to simply say, like our children, "Just because." When we try to be more specific, we end up with something rather abstract, such as: They are the repositories of precious objects and relics, the places where they are preserved, studied and displayed, which means that museums can be defined quite literally and succinctly, as the memory of mankind...The fact is, in the rooms of our museums are preserved things that are far more than just pretty pictures. These works of art, embodying and expressing with graphic force the deepest aspirations of a time and place, are direct, primary evidence for the study and understanding of mankind.... if we find our identity through works of art, then we have to identify them correctly, and works of art are not easy to decipher. They don't come with installation kits, lists of ingredients, and certificates of origin. In order to determine the time and place of their genesis, we have to ask of them: Who made them, where, when and why?

The answers to these questions are anything but obvious, because very few artistic traditions are pure -- that is, uninflected by outside influences. So, confronted with a work of art, we must be sure of its origin....The art museum then plays a key and beneficial role in teaching us humility, in making us recognize that other, very different yet totally valid civilizations have existed and do exist right alongside our own..in attempting to answer the question "why should we care?" I'd like to suggest a final, more broadly significant lesson. It is mankind's awe-inspiring ability, time and again, to surpass itself. What this means is that no matter how bleak the times we may live in, we cannot wholly despair of the human condition.
museums  art  value_propositions  provenance  artifacts  sublime  sense_of_proportion  galleries  art_galleries  humility  inspiration  interpretation  sense-making  Philippe_de_Montebello  the_human_condition 
august 2012 by jerryking
The Limits of Intelligence - WSJ.com
December 10, 2007 | WSJ | By PETER HOEKSTRA and JANE HARMAN.

On one of our several trips together to Iraq, a senior intelligence official told us how she wrote her assessments -- on one page, with three sections: what we know, what we don't know, and what we think it means.

Sound simple? Actually, it's very hard....The information we receive from the intelligence community is but one piece of the puzzle in a rapidly changing world. It is not a substitute for policy, and the challenge for policy makers is to use good intelligence wisely to fashion good policy.

In fact, the new NIE on Iran comes closest to the three-part model our intelligence community strives for: It carefully describes sources and the analysts' assessment of their reliability, what gaps remain in their understanding of Iran's intentions and capabilities, and how confident they are of their conclusions....Nevertheless, Congress must engage in vigorous oversight -- to challenge those who do intelligence work, and to make site visits to see for ourselves.

Intelligence is an investment -- in people and technology. It requires sustained focus, funding and leadership. It also requires agency heads that prioritize their constitutional duty to keep the intelligence committees informed. Good intelligence will not guarantee good policy, but it can spare us some huge policy mistakes.
security_&_intelligence  critical_thinking  Iran  memoranda  policy  sense-making  unknowns  interpretation  interpretative  information_gaps  oversight  rapid_change  think_threes  assessments_&_evaluations  policymakers  policymaking  intelligence_analysts 
june 2012 by jerryking
"The jobs at the end of the universe."
3 May 2012 |Financial Times |by Douglas Board.

Messrs Brynjolfsson and McAfee suggest that no matter how fast and smart computers become, 6 skills: statistical insight; managing group dynamics; good writing; framing and solving open-ended problems; persuasion; and human nurturing; will always be in demand....three more common quantitative abilities to be valued at senior levels: making the meaning of numbers come alive either visually or in words; a keen sense for when numbers should be an important part of a story yet are missing; and not being bullied by impressive correlations into assuming causality.
Erik_Brynjolfsson  career_paths  MIT  connecting_the_dots  problem_solving  open-ended  persuasion  statistics  Communicating_&_Connecting  indispensable  storytelling  skills  Managing_Your_Career  21st._century  new_graduates  Andrew_McAfee  numeracy  insights  sense-making  jobs  uncharted_problems 
may 2012 by jerryking
Men like dogs: Technology is allowing us to act more like our canine friends
May 6, 2011 | The Economist |by Schumpeter.

David Crow presentation from a few years ago on smart glasses--augmented reality.

Dogs, they say,
think in maps informed with their smell. They sniff &re-sniff a
location to find out what has been there & they sniff the air to
tell the future: to discover what will be here or where they'll go next.
Thus, dogs have a different sense of 'now'. Unlike our eyes, which take
in what is visible & apparent at this moment, their noses can sense
the past — who & what was here & what’s decaying underneath —
& the future of a place — what’s coming, just upwind. Dogs are
microprocessors & their noses feed their data bases. It strikes me
that the web— particularly the mobile web— is building a dog’s map of
the world. Via Foursquare, Facebook, Google, Twitter, Maps, Layar,
Goggles, etc.,we can look at a place & see who & what was here
before, what happened here, what people think of this place.Every place
will tell a story it could not before, without a nose to find the data
about it and a data base to store it and a mind to process it.
dogs  technology  Foursquare  Twitter  location  overlay_networks  location_based_services  smell  mapping  augmented_reality  metaphysical  sense-making  storytelling  wayfinding 
may 2011 by jerryking
The Paradoxes of Intelligence Reform :
March 10, 2003 The New Yorker by Malcolm Gladwell
Connecting the dots is easier said than done in retrospect. intentions
didn’t form a pattern. They formed a Rorschach blot. What is clear in
hindsight is rarely clear before the fact.
security_&_intelligence  pattern_recognition  Malcolm_Gladwell  connecting_the_dots  military_intelligence  sense-making  hindsight 
may 2011 by jerryking
In a Data-Heavy Society, Being Defined by the Numbers - NYTimes.com
By ALINA TUGEND
Published: April 22, 2011
“Numbers make intangibles tangible,” said Jonah Lehrer, a journalist and
author of “How We Decide,” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009). “They
give the illusion of control.”[stories, anecdotes, and ratios make numbers memorable. See also Pinboard article, "To Persuade People, Tell Them a Story"]

Too many people shopping for cars, for example, get fixated on how much
horsepower the engine has, even though in most cases it really doesn’t
matter, Mr. Lehrer said.

“We want to quantify everything,” he went on, “to ground a decision in
fact, instead of asking whether that variable matters.” [jck: that is, which variables are incisive, worth paying attention to, act as signal in a sea of noise?]
obsessions  rankings  data_driven  metrics  statistics  analysis  incisiveness  quantitative  Jonah_Lehrer  dangers  intangibles  meaning  sense-making  data  illusions  false_confidence  anecdotal  books  sense_of_control  storytelling  decision_making  overquantification 
april 2011 by jerryking
Voice of Influence
Oct. 07, 2010| TIME| By Richard Stengel. Fareed's worldview
comes in part from being a naturalized American citizen who was born in
Bombay and grew up outside the U.S. in what was then decidedly the
developing world. His academic background — a B.A. from Yale and a Ph.D.
in political science from Harvard — also gives him a set of analytical
tools that few have. "Most journalists ask the 'what' question very
well," he says. "My training is to ask the 'why.' "s. "I'm not in
journalism to play parlor games with elites. I want to help people
become more thoughtful and engaged about the world." ...Fareed is one of
the foremost public intellectuals of our time. He connects the dots on
foreign policy, politics, the economy and the larger culture to make
sense of the world's most important ideas and trends. And he does it
with a subtlety that is nevertheless clear and accessible. For him,
politics and international affairs are complex and gray, not black and
white.
Fareed_Zakaria  profile  sense-making  foreign_policy  politics  economics  trends  popular_culture  public_discourse  journalism  public_intellectuals  connecting_the_dots  engaged_citizenry  worldviews  5_W’s 
october 2010 by jerryking
For Today’s Graduate, Just One Word - Statistics - NYTimes.com
Aug. 5, 2009 | NYT | By STEVE LOHR. “We’re entering a world
where everything can be monitored and measured,” said Erik Brynjolfsson,
an economist and director of MIT’s Center for Digital Business. “But
the big problem is the ability of man to use, analyze and make sense of
the data.”" The rich lode of Web data has its perils. Its sheer vol. can
easily overwhelm statistical models. Statisticians caution that strong
correlations of data do not necessarily prove a cause-and-effect link.
E.g., in the late 1940s, before there was a polio vaccine, public health
experts noted that polio cases increased in step with the consumption
of ice cream and soft drinks, says David A. Grier, a historian and
statistician at GWU. Eliminating such treats was recommended as part of
an anti-polio diet. It turned out that polio outbreaks were most common
in the hot mths of summer, when people ate more ice cream, showing only
an association. The data explosion magnifies longstanding issues in
statistics.
Steve_Lohr  Hal_Varian  statistics  career_paths  haystacks  analytics  Google  data  Freshbooks  information_overload  data_scientists  Erik_Brynjolfsson  measurements  sense-making  massive_data_sets  correlations  causality 
june 2010 by jerryking
Seven questions that managers should ask
March 29, 2010 | The Globe and Mail | by Harvey Schachter.

Do you miss opportunities that others spot?

Despite massive investments in information technology and sophisticated data systems, many companies miss market shifts that rivals sense and exploit. To continually identify gaps in the market, you need real-time data, the ability to share it in your company, and the wisdom to supplement that data with direct observations in the field. He notes that Spanish retailer Zara, known for its capability to respond speedily to market shifts, has its designers, marketing managers and buyers work side-by-side in an open office setting that stimulates sharing and discussion.

Are your hydraulics broken?

Organizational hydraulics, Prof. Sull explains, are the mechanisms that senior executives use to translate corporate objectives into aligned actions by individuals across the organization. But in many companies, top executives deluge staff members with multiple, often conflicting, priorities, and everything plugs up. Alex Behring, chief executive officer of Garantia Investment Bank in Brazil in the 1990s, set out to repair the deteriorated organizational hydraulics in a railway bought from the government through such measures as capping the number of corporate priorities at five per year and requiring every employee to meet and negotiate with his or her boss both team and individual priorities for the year, again limited to five.

Do you reward mediocrity and call it teamwork?

In many organizations, he says, executives socialize bonuses in the name of teamwork, believing that differential payouts can stifle co-operation and long-term thinking. Variable pay represents a small portion of overall compensation, with the range of bonuses narrow. He argues instead for rewarding individuals who do what they say they will with outsized bonuses.

Are your core values a joke?

The most agile organization that Prof. Sull studied shared a core set of values: strong achievement ethic; personal responsibility by all employees for results; creativity to challenge the status quo; and integrity, to offset the temptation to cut corners when taking on ambitious goals. "Rather than print posters listing the values that then languish on conference room walls, executives should breathe life into the corporate culture by hiring and promoting individuals on the basis of the adherence to values," he says, noting that Reckitt Benckiser, a consumer goods company, created a pre-screening tool that allows potential employees to assess their fit with the organization.

Are you talking about the wrong things?

Managers spend about three-quarters of their time in discussions, and need to be adept at four different types of conversations that facilitate execution: making sense of volatile situations; deciding what to do, not do, or stop doing [Sounds a lot like Peter Drucker] ; soliciting and monitoring commitments by others to deliver; and making corrections in mid-course. Beware of executives who excel at only one type of discussion, and struggle with or avoid the others.

Have your Vikings become farmers?

Effective executives are like Nordic Vikings, who attacked when they saw an unprotected spot, and retreated when they realized they couldn't win. Do some of your executives have that same instinct, or are they all like farmers, more interested in protecting and tilling their current fields?

Do you rely on heroic leadership?

The economic crisis forced many executives into firefighting mode but, over the long haul, you need leaders who can build up your organization's execution strength in a disciplined way. "Senior executives who dash from crisis to crisis are a sign of organizational weakness, not leadership strength," Prof. Sull warns.
Harvey_Schachter  IT  Donald_Sull  observations  questions  wisdom  conversations  sense-making  real-time  data  mediocrity  overlooked_opportunities  Peter_Drucker  missed_opportunities  long-haul  primary_field_research  core_values  Zara 
march 2010 by jerryking
Seth Godin on What it Takes to be a Linchpin [INTERVIEW]
Feb. 14, 2010 | Mashable | Interview of Seth Godin by Steve
Cunningham is the CEO of Polar Unlimited, a digital marketing agency.
In his book — Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? — Seth Godin poses a
challenge: Take your gift, whatever it is, and use it to change the
world. As Godin says, “a linchpin is the essential element, the person
who holds part of the operation together. Without the linchpin, the
thing falls apart.” "If I told you, step-by-step, what to do to become
indispensable, then anyone could do it. And if anyone could do it, it
wouldn’t be worth very much. Scarcity creates value. And, this is going
to frustrate people, but the emotional labor of work, today — the thing
that makes you worth $50,000 or $100,000 or $150,000 a year — is that
you can navigate the world without a map. People who need a map, are
going to get paid less and less and work harder and harder every day,
because there’s plenty of those people, and I can find them with a click
of the mouse."
Seth_Godin  indispensable  howto  entrepreneur  inspiration  scarcity  interviews  proprietary  sense-making  ambiguities  uncertainty  navigation  non-routine  uncharted_problems 
february 2010 by jerryking
The Culture of Today’s Changing World
May/June 2009 | Departures | By Joshua Cooper Ramo. From
Hezbollah in Beirut to a investment fund in Beijing, we’re living in an
age of unthinkable change and surprise. "In a world of constant newness
in science, technology, and media, there’s no reason to think politics
and economics should be immune to change any more than the way we search
for information is. If we truly want to develop a sense of the unstable
geography at this moment and master the suddenly essential language of
surprise and hope and danger, our only chance is to get out of the house
(or the bunker) and start looking for signs of the new. Travel,
tourism, and culture instantly become more than hobbies or distractions;
they are transformed into our best hope of understanding. Because while
we are now indisputably living in the age of the unthinkable, it
doesn’t mean we’re living in the age of the unexplainable."
Joshua_Cooper_Ramo  globalization  dangers  politicaleconomy  instability  unpredictability  travel  tourism  culture  surprises  constant_change  sense-making  unthinkable 
january 2010 by jerryking
A whole new mind: why right-brainers ... - Google Books
Excerpt from 'A whole new mind: why right-brainers will rule
the future' By Daniel H. Pink. "Indeed, one of design's most potent
economic effects is this very capacity to create new markets... The
forces of Abundance, Asia, and Automation turn goods and services into
commodities so quickly that the only way to survive is by constantly
developing new innovations, inventing new categories, and (in Paola
Antonelli's lovely phrase) giving the world something it didn't know it
was missing.
============================================

See also Tom Friedman's piece ("We Need a Second Party" - NYTimes.com ) below:

The first is responding to the challenges and opportunities of an era in which globalization and the information technology revolution have dramatically intensified, creating a hyperconnected world. This is a world in which education, innovation and talent will be rewarded more than ever. This is a world in which there will be no more “developed” and “developing countries,” but only HIEs (high-imagination-enabling countries) and LIEs (low-imagination-enabling countries). Adding "imagination"
design  Daniel_Pink  innovation  storytelling  symphony  empathy  play  meaning  sense-making  new_businesses  new_categories  automation  abundance  Asia  developing_countries  imagination  Tom_Friedman  high-touch  special_sauce  skills  developed_countries 
october 2009 by jerryking
The Gripping Statistic : How to Make Your Data Matter
Mon Aug 10, 2009 | Fast Company | By Dan Heath & Chip
Heath. A good statistic is one that aids a decision or shapes an opinion. For a stat to do either of those, it must be dragged within the everyday (e.g. using ratios or useful analogies). That's your job -- to do the dragging. In our world of billions and trillions, that can be a lot of manual labor. But it's worth it: A number people can grasp is a number that can make a difference.
analogies  base_rates  Cisco  Communicating_&_Connecting  contextual  data  data_journalism  high-impact  mathematics  narratives  numeracy  persuasion  probabilities  ratios  statistics  storytelling  sense-making  value_creation 
september 2009 by jerryking
FT.com / Companies / Technology - Make sense of the in-house data mountain
November 22, 2006 | Financial Times | By Tom Braithwaite. With
swaths of unstructured data lying in corporate servers, whether in the
form of e-mails, PowerPoint presentations or TV images, companies are
increasingly seeking the means to sift through the in-house information
mountain.
search  in-house  databases  information_overload  haystacks  massive_data_sets  data_mining  unstructured_data  sense-making 
june 2009 by jerryking
L. Gordon Crovitz Says Technological Creativity Could Help Wall Street Make Sense of Data - WSJ.com
FEBRUARY 9, 2009 | WSJ | By L. GORDON CROVITZ reports on
the annual Technology, Entertainment and Design conference. TED as an
antidote to recessionary pessimism. Reminder that other industries,
especially Wall Street, need to embrace the technologist ethos of
constant creativity and innovation. "Raw data, now!" Find new
relationships among data and new answers to problems in ways we haven't
been able to imagine
analytics  L._Gordon_Crovtiz  Web  data  Wall_Street  TED  unimaginable  sense-making  pattern_recognition  patterns  data_mining  problems 
february 2009 by jerryking

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