Lately, data is everywhere! Sometimes this can be overwhelming but truly, data is beautiful. As David McCandless emphasizes in his talk about the beauty of data visualization, using your eyes to understand data gives it context and meaning. Numbers and spreadsheets are limited without the context that visualizations such as graphs provide. Erik Brynjolfsson, an economist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management, gives perspective to the innovation of big data by comparing it with the innovation of biochemistry, the microscope. The invention of the microscope in the 1670s gave scientists the ability to see microbes that had never been seen before, developing the foundation of germ theory. Big data is the innovation of our time because it gives businesses, government, communities, and individuals the ability to see what had previously been unseen. What makes this beautiful is that it empowers people to demand change, strengthen decision making, connect through networks, develop more effective processes, and more. From the beginning SCOPE has known the advantages of data, big and small. In 2001-2002 we shared our first community report card with the Sarasota County community. The report card serves as a portfolio of data that informs residents how the greater county is doing in different domains of well-being. All of these indicators are visualized in the form of graphs, maps or both. After listening to residents in our High Tech High Touch workshops, in addition to engagement with various individuals and community groups throughout the county, SCOPE has planned the next year’s Community Report Card.
Now is time for a call to action! To insure that the report card is truly the beating pulse of the communities’ data aspirations and desires, we want you, our readers and followers, to suggest public knowledge experts on the upcoming community report card. Who do you know that can bring life and context to the raw numbers and graphs being harvested on Health, Social and Learning well-being? Is there a topic bubbling up in conversation with your fellow neighbors and residents lately, but you aren’t sure about the reality or source of the topic? Please respond on our facebook wall or in the blog comment box!