Some Truth About 'Big Data', Agnostic Storytelling & Journalism
A couple weeks back I gave a talk at the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab on how to use data and the stories behind the data to build intelligence and sustain markets.
It's an hour-long, so I thought I'd summarize some key points for you:
- Immediacy and importance with information leave us, as readers and media participants, grappling over the choice of information we want to consume or with which we want to interact;
- Data isn't 'big' so much as it is curatorial and relevant given a particular context or set of contexts;
- Normative methods for measurement (clicks, views, page rank etc.) don't represent true or scalable value, and actually commodify the media market, to include 'content' and the creators of it;
- Discovery and serendipity (not filtering) are vital for critical thought processes;
- Stories are in actuality the predicates for markets and their growth; the question becomes how we look beyond the need to push content out into media environments and instead look at how storytelling is used to leverage cultural and business behaviors;
- We need to relearn how to think, and ask better questions, knowing that the 'answers' may not come to us right away or ever;
- Central or 'meta' narratives have been constructed over time to influence our perspectives of the world that often run in conflict with what we know to be true in our hearts; the choices we make (our freewill) can shift these perspectives and create new realities through personal and collective stories;
- Cognitive bias can be reframed to look at 'truth' and 'circumstance' as inferential; the idea is that information streams have phases or stages that provide pivots through which we can understand operating context -- the thing that enables us to understand information and make better decisions;
- The future of the media business as a whole hinges on three things: 1. emergence (allowing stories and ideas to flourish without media or advertising bias), 2. socialization (syndicating information streams as part of the storytelling process), 3. learning (adapting to what we discover, when we discover it).
Be vigilant in your pursuit of context. Think and act critically. Always consider your fellow (wo)man. Be kind, be generous, be unreasonable in protecting your civil rights, and those of others. Make great, inspiring media. Most of all, always be informed, and if you’re not afforded the opportunity, then trust your intuition... All fundamental truth resides in your heart. And with that, the stories you tell, the information you share, can only be, and will only be, magnificent.