Figuring out the future from (not Tarot) cards
via a pretty interesting paper by Nicholas Diakopoulos:
Data are numerical entities or veridical facts. Information is about adding relationships between these elements of data, or creating groupings and categorizations of data. Knowledge emerges when humans interpret, analyze, and judge information as a mechanism for driving decision making.
In his most recent writing, Dr. Diakopoulos does a lot of terminological house keeping — determining the difference between the mathematics of computing and the interactive, humanistic side of it, and so on. He also decides what a journalist’s 10 goals are. Here’s three that look really simple before he tosses in 7 lesser, or complementary, ones:
(1) striving for truth, (2) acting in the public interest, and (3) generally providing information about contemporary affairs of public interest. These can in-turn be conceived of as being reinforced by other values, goals, or activities.
The final result of all this categorizing is four giant categories — Computing, Consumer needs, Journalistic goals, and Information processes — and the 55 terms that make them up. Combining terms from different categories will, Diakopoulos hopes, create a systematic way to come up with innovative ideas. And to do that, Diakopoulos employs a card game. Each term gets its own card, and each card is color-coded depending on its category.
Here’s how to play: place the Computing cards in one pile, and all cards from the other three categories in a separate pile. Play with three people. One person takes a card from Computing and the others each take a card from the Consumer-Journalists-Information pile, and, taking what they’ve picked, brainstorm:
Combining the concepts shown on the drawn cards, the group is instructed to “generate as many different ideas as possible in five minutes”. Brainstorming can happen in many different ways, though we stress quantity of ideas since research has shown that stressing quantity over quality tends to ultimately yield more high-quality ideas.
How did it go? Well, Dr. Diakopoulos goes into detail about how he tried the game with different people, and how the groups compared. They were actually quite similar, and came up with some somewhat interesting ideas — like recreating dangerous intersections online, or examining audience reactions to real-time, unorganized events.
FJP: It sounds pretty Dada. Buy the construction paper, write the terms out in permanent marker and go find the scissors, or order readymade cards here. Or you can go take a long walk and think of your next big idea in the shower. We’re dealing with mysterious stuff here. Your call.
H/T: Nieman Lab