Friday, August 15, 2014

Motivating Data

What motivates people? A belief, a hope, a goal. The only thing that makes you read this is the belief or hope of finding something useful here. Something you can learn from, quench your curiosity or help you reach a certain goal in learning or performing.

What is motivating data? Well, data makes no decisions, and cannot apply any resources to a particular action. So, the statement is an absolute absurdity. Or not ... While data cannot change the way it interacts with the world - people certainly can affect this. And that is the point.

When I first started writing about data management, yes the notion of people affecting how data is applied seemed very trivial. Of course people manage data, and of course we affect how it is being applied. But what I am realizing more and more is how pervasive the subjective motivation of data really is. Every day, all of us, make dozens of decisions to disseminate or block information from flowing. Whether it is of personal nature, such as protecting loved ones from anxiety or pain, or professionally, where we use our professional judgment to improve the outcome of our efforts and those in our teams.

On a larger scale, companies and organizations make conscientious decisions as to what information to expose, when and to whom. This is really part of doing business, or interacting with the world. There are many strategies one can apply to affect these type of results. You can provide too much information with the intent to overwhelm, or create an impression of sharing everything, while carefully omitting certain bits of information. Whether it is right or wrong depends on the situation and the parties involved.

On the other side of the coin, we are information seekers. We look for information that can help us satisfy our beliefs, hopes and goals. We subscribe to channels of information in hope to receive the information we seek. We continuously fine-tune these subscriptions, replace or change the optionality’s on those channels. But in reference to what I said above - this is a tall order, as without understanding your information provider's intention - you are subject to their information filters.

Strategies to combat disinformation of that sort, include evaluating consistency and patterns related to the details of information you receive (sounds complicated, but we do this all the time naturally). A second strategy involves subscribing to multiple channels in hope of verification, or ability to have a more comprehensive perspective.

As a small bolt in the global information system, we can originate or terminate information flows by applying some of the strategies I noted above. We also need to motivate other people to behave the same in order to reach a level of meaningful influence.

My question to you is how are you motivating "your" data, and more importantly - what is your intention?

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