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Archive for July, 2013

by: Bsomich
31  Jul  2013

Content Contributor Contest

Content Contributor Contest

Hey members! Ready to showcase your IM skills? Contribute a new wiki article or expand an existing article between now and September 31, 2013 and you’ll be automatically entered into a drawing for a free iPad mini!

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Contest Terms and Conditions:

Eligibility is open to any new or existing MIKE2.0 member who makes a significant wiki article expansion (expansion must be greater than half the existing wiki article) or creates a new article. Please note that new articles MUST be related to our core IM competencies such as Business Intelligence, Agile Development, Big Data, Information Governance, etc. Off-topic, promotional and spam articles will be automatically disqualified.

Drawing to take place on October 1, 2013. Winning community member will be notified at the email address listed on their user profile. Contest not open to existing MGA board members, MIKE2.0 team, or contractors.

Need somewhere to start?

How about the [most wanted pages][1]; or the pages we know [need more work] [2]; or even the [stub] [3] that somebody else has started, but hasn’t been able to finish. Still not sure? Just contact us at mike2@openmethodology.org and we’ll be happy to help refer you to some articles that might be a good fit for your expertise.

Good luck!

Category: Information Development
No Comments »

by: Ocdqblog
31  Jul  2013

Metadata and the Baker/baker Paradox

In his recent blog post What’s the Matter with ‘Meta’?, John Owens lamented the misuse of the term metadata — the metadata about metadata — when discussing matters within the information management industry, such as metadata’s colorful connection with data quality.  As Owens explained, “the simplest definition for ‘Meta Data’ is that it is ‘data about data’.  To be more precise, metadata describes the structure and format (but not the content) of the data entities of an enterprise.”  Owens provided several examples in his blog post, which also received great commentary.

Some commenters resisted oversimplifying metadata as data about data, including Rob Karel who, in his recent blog post Metadata, So Mom Can Understand, explained that “at its most basic level, metadata is something that helps to better describe the data you’re trying to remember.”

This metadata crisis reminded me of the book Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything, where author Joshua Foer described a strange kind of forgetfulness that psychologists have dubbed the Baker-baker Paradox.

As Foer explained it: “A researcher shows two people the same photograph of a face and tells one of them the guy is a baker and the other that his last name is Baker.  A couple days later, the researcher shows the same two guys the same photograph and asks for the accompanying word.  The person who was told the man’s profession is much more likely to remember it than the person who was given his surname.  Why should that be?  Same photograph.  Same word.  Different amount of remembering.”

“When you hear that the man in the photo is a baker,” Foer explained, “that fact gets embedded in a whole network of ideas about what it means to be a baker: He cooks bread, he wears a big white hat, he smells good when he comes home from work.”

“The name Baker, on the other hand,” Foer continued, “is tethered only to a memory of the person’s face.  That link is tenuous, and should it dissolve, the name will float off irretrievably into the netherworld of lost memories.  (When a word feels like it’s stuck on the tip of the tongue, it’s likely because we’re accessing only part of the neural network that contains the idea, but not all of it.)”

“But when it comes to the man’s profession,” Foer concluded, “there are multiple strings to reel the memory back in.  Even if you don’t at first remember that the man is a baker, perhaps you get some vague sense of breadiness about him, or see some association between his face and a big white hat, or maybe you conjure up a memory of your own neighborhood bakery.  There are any number of knots in that tangle of associations that can be traced back to his profession.”

Metadata makes data better, helping us untangle the knots of associations among the data and information we use everyday.  Whether we be bakers or Bakers, or professions or people described by other metadata, the better we can describe ourselves and our business, the better our business will be.

Although we may not always agree on the definitions demarcating metadata, data, and information, let’s not forget that what matters most is enabling better business the best we can.

Tags: , , ,
Category: Data Quality, Information Development, Metadata
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by: Robert.hillard
28  Jul  2013

Will the bionic eye solve information overload?

Right now, researchers are working around the world to find ways of restoring sight to the blind by creating a bionic eye.  The closest analogy is the bionic ear, more properly called a cochlear implant, which works by directly stimulating the auditory nervous system.

While the direct targeting of retinal tissue is analogous to the bionic ear, the implications for our grandchildren and great grandchildren go well beyond the blind community who are the intended recipients.

In the decades since the first cochlear implant, the sole objective of research has been to improve the quality of the sound heard.  There is no hint of a benefit in adding additional information into the stream.

But the visual cortex isn’t the auditory nervous system, it is very close to being a direct feed into brain.

The bionic eye could be very different to the bionic ear.  In the first instance, it is obvious that a direct feed of location data from the web could be added to the stream to help interpret the world around the user.  It isn’t much of leap to go beyond navigation and make the bionic eye a full interface to the Internet.

By the time the bionic eye is as mature as the bionic ear is today, the information revolution should be complete and we will well and truly be living in an information economy.  Arguably the most successful citizens will navigate information overload with ease.  But how will they do it?

Today’s multi-dimensional tools for navigating complex information just won’t cut it.  Each additional dimension that the human mind can understand reduces the number of “small world” steps needed to solve information problems.  You can read more about the Small Worlds measure in chapter 5 of Information-Driven Business or find a summary of the technique in MIKE2.0.

While normal visual tools can only support two or at most three dimensions, business intelligence tools often try to add an extra one or even two through hierarchies or filters.  However, these representations are seldom very successful and are only useful to highly skilled users.

A direct feed into the brain, even if it has to go through the visual nervous system, could provide so much more than a convenient form of today’s Google Glasses.  Properly trained, the brain will adapt visual data to meet information needs in very efficient and surprising ways that go well beyond in-mind images.  It is entirely conceivable that by the late 21st century people will think in a dozen dimensions and navigate terabytes of complex information with ease using an “in-eye” machine connection.

Of course, the implications go well beyond the technology.  How will such implants be used by the wider population?  Will the desire for the ultimate man-machine interface be so overwhelming as to overcome ethical concerns of operating on otherwise healthy patients?

The implications are also social and will affect parents (perhaps even our children).  The training required for the brain could overwhelm many adult minds, but may be most effective when available from an early age.  In fact, it could be that children who are implanted with a bionic eye will derive the greatest advantages from the information economy in the latter decades of the 21st century.

Imagine the pressure on parents in future decades to decide which brand of implant to install in their children.  It makes today’s iOS, Android and Windows smartphone debates pale into insignificance!

Tags: ,
Category: Information Development
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by: Ocdqblog
27  Jul  2013

Information Underwhelm

In the era of big data, we’re confronted by the question Brenda Somich recently blogged: How do you handle information overload?  “Does today’s super-connected and informative online environment allow us to work to our potential?” Somich asked.  “Is all this information really making us smarter?”

I have blogged about how much of the unstructured data that everyone is going gaga over is gigabytes of gossip and yottabytes of yada yada digitized.  While most of our verbalized thoughts were always born this way, with word of mouth becoming word of data, big data is making little data monsters of us all.

Data Addiction

In a way, we have become addicted to data.  In her post, Somich discussed how we have become so obsessed with checking emails, news feeds, blog posts, and social media status updates, that even after hours of using information have gone by, we are still searching for our next data fix.  Our smartphones have become our constant companions, ever-present enablers reminiscent of the nickname that the once most popular smartphone went by — CrackBerry.

In his book Hamlet’s BlackBerry: Building a Good Life in the Digital Age, William Powers explained that “in the sixteenth century, when information was physically piling up everywhere, it was the ability to erase some of it that afforded a sense of empowerment and control.”

“In contrast, the digital information that weighs on us today exists in a nonphysical medium, and this is part of the problem.  We know it’s out there, and we have words to represent and quantify it.  An exabyte, for instance, is a million million megabytes.  But that doesn’t mean much to me.  Where is all that data, exactly?  It’s everywhere and nowhere at the same time.  We’re physical creatures who perceive and know the world through our bodies, yet we now spend much of our time in a universe of disembodied information.  It doesn’t live here with us, we just peer at it through a two-dimensional screen.  At a very deep level of the consciousness, this is arduous and draining.”

Without question, big data is forcing us to revisit information overload.  But sometimes it’s useful to remember that the phrase is over forty years old now — and it originally expressed the concern, not about the increasing amount of information, but about our increasing access to information.

Just because we now have unprecedented access to an unimpeded expansion of information doesn’t mean we need to access it right now.  Just because disembodied information is everywhere doesn’t mean that our bodies need to consume it.

Information Underwhelm

One thing we must do, therefore, to avoid such snafus as the haunting hyper-connected hyperbole of the infinite inbox, is acknowledge the infinitesimal value of most of the information we consume.

When you are feeling overwhelmed by the amount of information you have access to, stop for a moment and consider how underwhelming most of it is.  I think part of the reason we keep looking for more information is because we’re so unsatisfied with the information we’ve found.

Although information overload is a real concern and definitely does frequently occur, far more often I think it is information underwhelm that is dragging us down.

How much of the content of those emails, news feeds, blog posts, and social media status updates you read yesterday, or even earlier today, do you actually remember?  If you’re like me, probably not much, which is why we need to mind the gap between our acquisition and application of information.

As Anton Chekhov once said, “knowledge is of no value unless you put it into practice.”  By extension, consuming information is of no value unless you put it to use.  And an overwhelming amount of the information now available to us is so underwhelming that it’s useless to consume.

Tags: , , , ,
Category: Data Quality, Information Development
3 Comments »

by: Bsomich
26  Jul  2013

Weekly IM Update.

 
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Did You Know?

MIKE2.0 is being continually updated by the community. There are currently 866 articles and 11,630 people signed-up to contribute their knowledge and experience. Why not dive in and add your insight to one of the information management problems or solutions that is being worked on by the community? Try one of our popular sections to get started or explore to find content on specific information management subjects.

We hope you’ll check us out when you have a moment.

Sincerely,

MIKE2.0 Community

Contribute to MIKE:

Start a new article, help with articles under construction or look for other ways to contribute.

Update your personal profile to advertise yourself to the community and interact with other members.

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Did You Know? All content on MIKE2.0 and any contributions you make are published under the Creative Commons license. This allows you free re-use of our content as long as you add a brief reference back to us.

 

This Week’s Blogs for Thought:

Push Down Business Decisions

In his recent Harvard Business Review blog post Are You Data Driven? Take a Hard Look in the Mirror, Tom Redman distilled twelve traits of a data-driven organization, the first of which is making decisions at the lowest possible level.

This is how one senior executive Redman spoke with described this philosophy: “My goal is to make six decisions a year.  Of course that means I have to pick the six most important things to decide on and that I make sure those who report to me have the data, and the confidence, they need to make the others.”

Read more.

The Silliness of Email

A  few years ago, I participated in a conference as the host of a breakout session (along with about 60 other people). During the planning stages of the event, I would routinely receive emails from the organizer, Tim (not his real name). Tim would ask for information like a headshot, bio, topic, summary, etc. Now this is pretty standard stuff, but the way that Tim handled the data management side of the registration process serves as a lesson on the silliness of email.

Read more.

How do you handle information overload?  

We all have productive days and not-so-productive days, but with all the social distractions that are integrated with our work routine and in our inbox, I can’t help but wonder, does today’s super-connected and informative online environment allow us to work to our potential? Is technology making us work more efficiently or get distracted more easily? Is all this information really making us smarter, or just   contributing to our A.D.D.?

Read more. 

  

Forward to a Friend!

Category: Information Development
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by: Bsomich
20  Jul  2013

How do you handle information overload?

I sat down to work today at 9 a.m. First stop, Gmail. Reply to some emails, read the news, comment on a few blog posts, done. Look at the clock, it’s 11:00. Next stop, social media. Log into Facebook to post a company status update, get derailed by my news feed, comment on a few pictures, get inspired to write a blog post, forgot about my status update. Look at the clock, it’s noon already. Three hours gone by and my work has not even started.

We all have productive days and not-so-productive days, but with all the social distractions that are integrated with our work routine and in our inbox, I can’t help but wonder, does today’s super-connected and informative online environment allow us to work to our potential? Is technology making us work more efficiently or get distracted more easily? Is all this information really making us smarter, or just contributing to our A.D.D.?

The short answer is, it depends how well you’re using it. The internet, or Google more specifically, has provided us with a way to optimize everything. Our calendar, our news headlines, our social feeds, etc. Their products are designed to make life easier and help keep us organized. But with all this organization comes the ability to handle more. And more is exactly what we’ve gotten. More email, more pictures, more status updates, more distractions. We’ve become so connected with our online world, our brains have literally become overloaded with content and the ability to prioritize project tasks has gotten increasingly difficult.

The implications of information overload are not just on an individual employee level. Management faces a constant struggle with enterprise-wide and departmental productivity due the very same issues. The key is encouraging others how to prioritize their workload while alleviating distractions. But more than that, companies need to ensure that the work environment is designed to allow employees to actually “do work.”

How do you handle the implications of information overload, on an individual or enterprise level?

Category: Information Management
3 Comments »

by: Phil Simon
20  Jul  2013

The Silliness of Email

A few years ago, I participated in a conference as the host of a breakout session (along with about 60 other people). During the planning stages of the event, I would routinely receive emails from the organizer, Tim (not his real name). Tim would ask for information like a headshot, bio, topic, summary, etc. Now this is pretty standard stuff, but the way that Tim handled the data management side of the registration process serves as a lesson on the silliness of email.

After Tim’s first message, I had about four questions that could have been answered in a three-minute phone call. Of course, Tim didn’t have time to talk with me. I called and left a message for him, but Tim wrote back that he was “totally overwhelmed” by what he had to do.

I would soon come to understand why.

A few weeks later, Tim sent the following email went to about 60 people:

You were previously sent an email from EMAIL ADDRESS asking for your hi-res headshot, as well as both a long and short bio. The long bio, as mentioned is attached to our online scheduled [sic]. However, the 140 character or less bio, is for our printed material. Our printed materials have a hard deadline coming up this DATE. If I have not received this information from you previously, please send it ASAP or it will likely not appear in our printed materials. Previously, I had issued a hard deadline to all speakers of end of DATE.

Notice above that Tim wrote “If I have not received this information from you previously, please send it ASAP or it will likely not appear in our printed materials.”

If?

This one, two-letter word indicated to me that Tim was managing this entire process via email–and not very well either. Not a spreadsheet. Not a database. Not a Google form that would collect information. Not a system like MailChimp that would enable him to put people into buckets based upon their actions–or lack thereof. The fact that Tim was sending these types of blanket emails  confirmed that he didn’t know who did what (and I’d bet when as well). I’d also wager that the way he was going about things explained why he was feeling “overwhelmed.”

Simon Says

Look. Email has its time and place. As an introductory medium or to send someone a quick update, email is virtually indispensable. For managing a process however, email is just about the worst thing that you can use. Sorting through myriad messages and sending blanket emails gives the impression (accurate or not) that you don’t know what you’re doing. When someone asks you basic questions, it will take you an inordinate amount of time to answer them–and your answers will probably be incorrect.

Embrace the web. Move away from discrete emails for projects like these. Think data. Think reporting. Think efficiency.

Feedback

What say you?

Category: Information Development
2 Comments »

by: Ocdqblog
16  Jul  2013

Push Down Business Decisions

In his recent Harvard Business Review blog post Are You Data Driven? Take a Hard Look in the Mirror, Tom Redman distilled twelve traits of a data-driven organization, the first of which is making decisions at the lowest possible level.

This is how one senior executive Redman spoke with described this philosophy: “My goal is to make six decisions a year.  Of course that means I have to pick the six most important things to decide on and that I make sure those who report to me have the data, and the confidence, they need to make the others.”

“Pushing decision-making down,” Redman explained, “frees up senior time for the most important decisions.  And, just as importantly, lower-level people spend more time and take greater care when a decision falls to them.  It builds the right kinds of organizational capability and, quite frankly, appears to create a work environment that is more fun.”

I have previously blogged about how a knowledge-based organization is built upon a foundation of bottom-up business intelligence with senior executives providing top-down oversight (e.g., the strategic aspects of information governance).  Following Redman’s advice, the most insightful top-down oversight is driving decision-making to the lowest possible level of a data-driven organization.

With the speed at which decisions must be made these days, organizations can not afford to risk causing a decision-making bottleneck by making lower-level employees wait for higher-ups to make every business decision.  While faster decisions aren’t always better, a shorter decision-making path is.

Furthermore, in the era of big data, speeding up your data processing enables you to integrate more data into your decision-making processes, which helps you make better data-driven decisions faster.

Well-constructed policies are flexible business rules that empower employees with an understanding of decision-making principles, trusting them to figure out how to best apply them in a particular context.

If you want to pull your organization, and its business intelligence, up to new heights, then push down business decisions to the lowest level possible.  Arm your frontline employees with the data, tools, and decision-making guidelines they need to make the daily decisions that drive your organization.

Tags: , ,
Category: Business Intelligence, Information Governance
2 Comments »

by: Bsomich
13  Jul  2013

Weekly IM Update.

 
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Business Drivers for Better Metadata Management

There are a number Business Drivers for Better Metadata Management that have caused metadata management to grow in importance over the past few years at most major organisations. These organisations are focused on more than just a data dictionary across their information – they are building comprehensive solutions for managing business and technical metadata.

Our wiki article on the subject explores many factors contributing to the growth of metadata and guidance to better manage it:  

Feel free to check it out when you have a moment.

Sincerely,
MIKE2.0 Community

Contribute to MIKE:Start a new article, help with articles under construction or look for other ways to contribute.

Update your personal profile to advertise yourself to the community and interact with other members.

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This Week’s Blogs for Thought:

 The Increasing Meaningless of the Data-Metadata Distinction     

“One man’s data is another man’s metadata” As I pen these words, the PRISM scandal continues to unfold. The questions raised by the National Security Administration’s formerly furtive program strike at the very heart of a free society. The fallout will continue for months, if not years. Maybe it will spark a deeper conversation about data ownership. Perhaps more people will echo the words of Jim Harris, who wrote recently on this site.

Read more.  

Can Big Data Save CMOs?

Executive turnover has always fascinated me, especially as of late. HP’s CEO Leo Apotheker had a very short run and Yahoo! has been a veritable merry-go-round over the last five years. Beyond the CEO level, though, many executive tenures resemble those of Spinal Tap drummers. For instance, CMOs have notoriously short lifespans. While the average tenure of a CMO has increased from 23.6 to 43 months since 2004, it’s still not really a long-term position. And I wonder if Big Data can change that.Read more.

Evernote’s Three Laws of Data Protection

“It’s all about bucks, kid. The rest is conversation.” –Michael Douglass as Gordon Gekko, Wall Street (1987) Sporting more than 60 million users, Evernote is one of the most popular productivity apps out there these days. You may in fact use the app to store audio notes, video, pics, websites, and perform a whole host of other tasks.

Read more.

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Category: Information Development
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by: Phil Simon
08  Jul  2013

The Increasing Meaninglessness of the Data-Metadata Distinction

“One man’s data is another man’s metadata”

As I pen these words, the PRISM scandal continues to unfold. The questions raised by the National Security Administration’s formerly furtive program strike at the very heart of a free society.

The fallout will continue for months, if not years. Maybe it will spark a deeper conversation about data ownership. Perhaps more people will echo the words of Jim Harris, who wrote recently on this site:

So, if we are so concerned about the government accessing this data, then why were we not similarly concerned about having voluntarily provided this data to those companies in the first place?  Because we agreed to a data privacy policy (which we have no choice but to accept, and most of us never read)? Or because those companies have comforting corporate mottos like “don’t be evil” (Google)?

The Metadata Cop-Out?

I for one noticed something interesting buried in many of the non-denial denials, the carefully scripted and lawyer-approved statements from Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo!, Microsoft, Facebook, and others. Many press releases claimed (truthfully, for all I know) that these companies didn’t provide data per se to the NSA. Rather, they provided metadata. In other words, Yahoo! didn’t give up the actual contents of any single email, just things like:

  • the sender’s email address
  • the receiver’s email address
  • the subject of the email
  • the time and date that the email was sent

So, what is this distinction between data and metadata? And does it ultimately matter?

I discussed this very subject recently with my friend Melinda Thielbar, a real-life statistician and data scientist. She agreed with me that the distinction is becoming “essentially meaningless.” Equipped with enough of (the right) metadata, one can more or less figure out what’s going on–or at least identify potentially suspicious communications among persons of interest.

Simon Says

The quote at the beginning of this post is as true as its ever been. In a world of Big Data, metadata is increasingly important. It’s not just the video, picture, blog post, email, or customer record that matters. The data about or “behind” the data can be just as critical.

Feedback

Is your organization paying attention to its metadata?

Tags: , , , ,
Category: Information Development, Metadata
4 Comments »

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