Actual From Abstract

A colleague’s daughter drew this. 


At first glance, I wasn’t sure what I was looking at. 


Do you see what it is?


At first, I was thinking something a little alien perhaps. 


But there it is right in front of you.


It’s the head, ears, nose, and tusks of an elephant. 


I really like the abstractness of this art. 


All from simple circles, and voila you have an elephant. 


Look carefully at what you think you see, and let your mind put the whole picture together. 


That’s how you come to the actual from the abstract! 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

In The Know or Dark

So here is one way that some people can (try to) manipulate you–positively or negatively. 


They can help either to keep you “in the know” or “in the dark.”


As we all know by now, information is power!


When you’re in the know–you are a trusted agent and a valuable resource; you have more dots and more connections between the dots to make; you are able to analyze what’s happening and make better decision going forward; you can lead with knowledge, wisdom, and hopefully understanding. People come to you for advice, guidance, and because you are a true asset to the team, your superiors, and the organization. 


When you’re in the dark–you are untrusted and unvalued, you may actually be seen as the enemy who needs to be marginalized, put out or taken out! You are kept out of meetings, uninformed or misinformed, and so you become more and more intellectually worthless. Further, others are implicitly or explicitly told that you are poisonous and not to get caught up in the pending slaughter.  A colleague of mine put it this way: “Don’t get between a man and his firing squad.”   


So with others, there can be information alliances as well as information warfare. 


To a great extent, you are responsible for keeping yourself in the know. You need to build relationships, bridges, and networks. You need to read, observe, and talk to lots of people. You need time to digest and analyze what you learn.  And you must build your information store so that it is ready and actionable. 


But to another extent, there are others–superiors, competitors, bullies, abusers–who just might seek to keep you in the dark and bring you down. Not everyone is your friend…some maybe just the opposite. (Wouldn’t it be nice, if we all were just friends!) But showing you the intellectual ass of the group is a powerful nut that once superimposed as an image, cannot be easily distilled. There is plenty of groupthink to go around. And taking out a perceived enemy diffuses their power to everyone else.  What a lousy coup by some nasty f*ckers!


Why some friend and others foe you–who the heck knows. Perhaps some is chemistry; some is tit for tat; some is personal bias and bigotry; and some just the crapshoot of fate. 


In the end, keep doing your part to enhance your value, your friendships, and your integrity. The rest, you have to be vigilant about and realize not everyone wants the lights kept on. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Information Is Power

Just wanted to share something I heard and liked about data and information:

“Everything is a record, record, record
in a table, table, table.”

Can everything in life really be reduced to lines of records, with fields of data in tables of information?


This is the information age!


Analytics and Big Data rule!


Knowledge is power!


In any conflict, we seek information dominance and supremacy!


Artificial intelligence is the future!


Records are unique with their own sys.id.


Creativity and innovation are also records in the table–even if they are the one in a million. 


The more records and tables–the more dots and connections between them–the more intelligence we can glean. 


Yes, everything is a record, record, record in a table, table, table. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

A Mountain Of Data

Turtle .jpeg

So I heard this interesting perspective on information and data analytics…


Basically, it comes down to this: 

“Most organizations are data rich, but information/insight poor.”


Or put another way:

“Data is collected, but not used.”


Hence we don’t know what we don’t know and we end up making bad decisions based on poor information. 


Just imagine if we could actually make sense of all the data points, connect them, visualize them, and get good information from them.


How much better than a pile of rocks is that? 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Big Data, Correlation Or Causation?

Big Data, Correlation Or Causation?

Gordon Crovitz wrote about Big Data in the Wall Street Journal (25 March 2013) this week.

He cites from a book called “Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think,” an interesting notion that in processing the massive amounts of data we are capturing today, society will “shed some of its obsession for causality in exchange for simple correlation.”

The idea is that in the effort to speed decision processing and making, we will to some extent, or to a great extent, not have the time and resources for the scientific method to actually determine why something is happening, but instead will settle for knowing what is happening–through the massive data pouring in.

While seeing the trends in the data is a big step ahead of just being overwhelmed and possibly drowning in data and not knowing what to make of it, it is still important that we validate what we think we are seeing but scientifically testing it and determining if there is a real reason for what is going on.

Correlating loads of data can make for interesting conclusions like when Google Flu predicts outbreaks (before the CDC) by reaming through millions of searches for things like cough medicine, but correlations can be spurious when for example, a new cough medicine comes out and people are just looking up information about it–hence, no real outbreak of the flu. (Maybe not the best example, but you get the point).

Also, just knowing that something is happening like an epidemic, global warming, flight delays or whatever, is helpful in situational awareness, but without knowing why it’s happening (i.e. the root cause) how can we really address the issues to fix it?

It is good to know if data is pointing us to a new reality, then at least we can take some action(s) to prevent ourselves from getting sick or having to wait endlessly in the airport, but if we want to cure the disease or fix the airlines then we have to go deeper, find out the cause, and attack it–to make it right.

Correlation is good for a quick reaction, but correlation is necessary for long-term prevention and improvement.

Computing resources can be used not just to sift through petabytes of data points (e.g. to come up with neighborhood crime statistics), but to actually help test various causal factors (e.g. socio-economic conditions, community investment, law enforcement efforts, etc.) by processing the results of true scientific testing with proper controls, analysis, and drawn conclusions.

>A Peek at The Future of Information Search, Analysis, and Visualization

>

I am not endorsing any vendor or product, but here’s an impressive video on what Recorded Future is doing with what they call a “Temporal Analytics Engine” to analyze open source information on the web as well as structured data sources.

This goes way beyond search as we do it today–this is a look into the future of iterative search, link analysis, information visualization (both temporally and spatially), and predictive analytics.

The video shows an example of how the technology can be used in counterterrorism efforts to “connect the dots” on the bad guys and protect our nation and its people.

Envision many other applications across government (including law enforcement), business, academia…check it out.