In college, I remember passing a table in our campus center advertising the work of a student that intrigued me immediately. I got on his mailing list (very infrequent, always interesting) then and have been receiving updates on projects ever since.
Jonathan Harris plays around with information organization, display, mining, visualizations, and storytelling. I highly recommend sifting through his projects here. I particularly like the Phylotaxis, love-lines, and We Feel Fine projects. Wordcount is also fascinating. I was having trouble opening some of these though just now, but maybe you will have more luck. (Ahem, note the difficulties around digital preservation of these amazing projects & the fragile nature of the digital??)
Anyways, the reason I’m posting here and now is that I just got one of the email updates from Harris announcing a bit he did in the NYTimes. This simple block of text pairs the truly awe-inspiring opportunities afforded by “data” and also flips each of those opportunities with a more pertinent, more important point. For example: “Data…It will help educators make excellent standardized tests, but will it help us embrace different standards of excellence?” Now, in some cases, the answers to these redirects are obvious. But, some are not. And, put together I think it helps remind us, remind our policy-makers, remind our do-ers who are involved in this world that data is one tool to tackle big, connected, hard, interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary social, economic, political, etc. problems in our society.
Maybe something to bring my book club for busy people…