The Design of Understanding

Max Gadney invited me to contribute to The Design of Understanding conference journal recently. I’m still gutted I couldn’t make the event (work at first, then I got sick) both to pick up my copy and watch the fabulous line-up speak, but Chris played courier for me and gave me a copy on Friday.

It’s lovely. I’m biased of course, but the book’s a fabulous collection of very diverse approaches to information design, data visualisation, storytelling; the lot. It’s also great as an object that will have an impact beyond the walls of the conference hall.

I wrote about my role at Last.fm, and the broad reasons why having a storyteller – a griot if you will – is essential for companies dealing with such a massive volume of data.

Max titled the piece – ‘Sense-making in the Scrobbling’ – and it’s a title I like a lot. It implies two things, firstly that you have to be in the guts of the data to pull out stories (something I hope to do more of as the year progresses) and secondly that it’s the scrobbling and not the scrobbles themselves that matter. One should never forget where one’s stories come from, the data’s source context.

This isn’t data about music, this is data about people listening to music.

Thanks again Max, and fingers crossed for The Design of Understanding 2012.

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