Visualizing Toward Empathy

We used to be more urgent than the Internet.

A dozen years ago, you would find many a netizen rushing home from work to get online so they could connect with friends, read the latest posts and comments, check their personal email for ezines, or jump on a discussion list. A few of us could sneak a peek at work, but not many. Corporate firewalls were sealed tight, and applications were sturdy and strict pieces of software, not fun three-letter words you can run on a phone.

That lacking begot urgency.

We were faster than the flow of information.

We rode data; data didn’t ride us.

Because the enterprise and the personprise were individuated — no BYOD, rare instances of telecommuting, and certainly no blogging from work — we had to expend a great deal of effort just to connect. We sought content; content didn’t seek us.

And here we are now, streams and feeds 24/7, an enmeshment of who we are wherever we are, with information following us. Worries of Big Brother replaced by Big Data – what do we do with all of the digital stuff assaulting us, and how do we keep up with our friends.

What is the ratio between interesting things that would be cool to know more about vs. how my friends are feeling–are they hurting? Getting married? Have a new job?  Should I have to go to three different social networks to find out? Times how many friends? And what is the likelihood I’ll give up before I find out, distracted instead with the guy who feel 24 miles from space.

We are fat with content now; we are lean with empathy.

But we can’t turn back. I’m not sure anyone would really want to. And I don’t have the answer yet. George Girton says I should try App.net – something you pay a little bit for so you don’t have to deal with ads and have control of your feed. Maybe. But gosh I don’t need another place to go, or barrage of information to dodge.

The great enablers of technology are the ones who solve problems like this.  When we had all of the information and no way to find it, Google came. Now that we have all of this information and no way to parse it, I don’t know what will come. But something will. Analytics are taking care of the dilemma for the enterprise.

But can analytics scale down? Can it draw meaning from micro-personal information as well as it handles big data?

Now that everything we need to know is out there, how do we visualize toward empathy? How do we make meaning?

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