Sunday 22 January 2017

Putting the people back into data

So. Official job title now contains data. Guess that means that I'm allowed to think about this stuff again...

So thinking I have been. I've got qGis installed on my laptop, along with 64bit Excel. I've got all the tools and all the toys. More importantly, I've got the most important thing of all - super lovely data that's actually important to important people to play with.

When I say important people, I do of course mean our service users. people with mental health problems, debt problems, offending problems etc. You know, those kind of important people. Not shareholders. Not politicians. Actual real people.

So it's really important to me that I think about this the right way, and I use the data I have to the very best I can, to get those important people exactly the kind of services and help that they want and need.

Yep - this is a post about data. and I'm still talking about people. That's not a mistake. It feels a little like the conversation about data has become all about empty fields resulting in zeroes and not about the people. Yes, empty fields/free texts fields are the spawn of satan. But.

That isn't where the stories are. Increasingly I am drawn to thinking about the people behind the numbers, the people we are supposed to be serving as data wranglers. Who are these people and what do they look like? UX design has personas - why don't we? Data visualisation is increasingly focused towards management information, and that's understandable, they are, after all, the ones making the decisions based on the data. But what if personas or some other way of visualisation the data still told management everything they needed to know, but still enabled them to keep sight of the people behind the data?

I don't have the answers. But I am doing the thinking and the questioning. I reckon that's a start.

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