Sitting in a BigData Academy conference at SAP South Africa and it got me thinking that perhaps we are entering a new age … I know, it’s a grand statement, but I believe it to be true. Let me explain my thinking.
One of the consequences of the rise of social media has been that anyone (with access to the internet) has a platform to make a statement (true or otherwise) and to air any view (malicious, or otherwise).
This is certainly a good thing in terms of our right to free speech, but because it is so easy to be ‘published’ we are ale to avert an important quality gate. Before social media became so pervasive the only way to share ideas to large audiences was via the formal (and expensive) broadcast media (including print) – where the broadcaster was identifiable and could be held accountable for the impact of their broadcasts, or in person (… and in the case of personal appearances sometimes this was a physical experience – as many a campaigning politician will attest).
This ‘broadcast quality gate’ was applied:
- by the broadcaster and not the recipient, and
- prior to dissemination and not on or after receipt.
But because many such public utterances are no longer subject to such a quality check we recipients can no longer infer the veracity of a statement from the mere fact that it has been broadcast, or ‘printed’: in other words not all (or even many) statements we read or hear today have been quality assured for truthfulness. Those of us receiving this ‘torrent’ have had to learn new techniques to differentiate fact from opinion. We are still learning those techniques.
You may or may not agree with these assertions … but why am I broadcasting this opinion via a blog dedicated to Business Intelligence and Analytics?
Well, with the latest developments in in-memory database technologies, and the platforms surrounding them, are we not about to similarly remove a formal quality control gate protecting the ‘truths’ within our enterprises? If anyone within the enterprise (or at least very many more than before) can now access data that was previously inaccessible due to technological constraints, and therefore become empowered to create and broadcast an opinion based on ever greater volumes of data with ever more sophistication, will not the responsibility for discerning veracity similarly shift from the broadcaster to the recipient. If this is the case it will then fall to each of us as recipients to take responsibility for where we place our personal trust.
And therein lies the challenge: as humans we have a tendency to over emphasise our own ability to make good decisions. After all our brains are hard wired in such a way that we are often (unknowingly) outwitted by our own brains (see Daniel Kahnemann – Thinking, Fast and Slow). Couple this with the fact that humility is such a rare human trait, and who of us can truthfully say that we are fully qualified to discern the veracity of a certain statement. On a practical level do we even have enough time, never mind the will, to evaluate a statement, de-construct it into its constituent facts and then to evaluate each to establish the ‘quality’ of the original aggregated truth. Are we therefore not at risk of operating under the Illusion of Being Qualified? And possibly more importantly what are the consequences of this?
Dunno, all I know is that I need to finish my next Lumira extension so that more people can misinterpret causality … (tongue-firmly-in-cheek)