(Not) Raging Against the Machine: Humanizing Big Data

Big data is big right now, but are we being crushed by the information? 
Make no mistake: facts and figures are necessary. It makes systems more efficient, and it helps us approach things logically. (I think Bill Gates’s vaccination program was an intelligent move that assessed data wisely to achieve their foundation’s vision.) 

To note, this is not an attempt to further mystify/vilify the statistics (or science), but to humanize the machine.  Figures are the catapult – the story is what keeps us up in the air. 

Without a story in place, all you have is noise. Without a direction in place, you will not tune in to what’s most important. Instead, you’ll be left deaf listening to the maddened screams of algorithms. 

Like what Storyful’s Markham Nolan said in his TED talk: “Truth is emotional, it’s fluid, and above all, it’s human. No matter how quick we get with computers, no matter how much information we have, you’ll never be able to remove the human from the truth-seeking exercise.”

As storytellers of the corporate world, our main task is to curate the influx of data and breathe method to the madness. Questions like, “How does this data help us achieve our goals as a company?” or “What information is essential to help us with our communications?” should be asked. 

You don’t achieve success by adopting just about every trend you notice: that’s like carpet-bombing a whole city to make sure you kill one criminal. Instead, you should learn from the data and become the syncretic force towards leading your own trend.  You must discover your niche and streamline your communications towards tapping that segment.

However, without knowing your core values, it’s impossible to lay out exactly where you should be heading. Without a higher purpose to anchor on, your data are but breadcrumbs getting you lost.

P.S. No – making money does not count as a noble purpose. Even cancers grow, too – and that’s not exactly the good kind of growth. 

READ: Data gives you the what, but humans know the why.

By Evan Tan

Evan Tan is a writer & communications professional based in Manila, Philippines.

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