Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Collect Data. Share a Narrative.

My friend Doria was recently blogged over at make money not art about her gorgeous RFID medical alert bracelets. One of the things she said reminded me a lot of what I heard people saying at the Oracle business intelligence user group (BIWA SIG) conference last year. She said:

“We have the technology to collect and process a lot of data. I'm more interested in the narrative -- qualitative than quantitative information. I'm more prone to remember a good story than facts and figures. My personal view is that of all the data we record, the most precious ones are stories. These are impressions --- real, reconstructed, or imagined memories -- that are a trace of our human experience. Ultimately, the network of things…is connected to a network of people.”

Doria was talking about making well-crafted objects that become part of the story of the user, but she might just as well have been talking about the RFID data collected from the bracelets and the collective human story it can tell (privacy issues aside). Tableau Software's presentation at the BIWA conference said much the same thing.

Oracle’s work in BI, data warehousing, and analytics is making this kind of qualitative storytelling from data available to a lot more people. The BIWA group and Oracle blogs (scroll down to BI blogs) are a great way to keep up with Oracle’s thinking on this.

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