These days, there’s an abundance of information. But before we go into that, let us take you back to 1816. Now, what’s so special about this particular year, you ask?
It was known as The Year Without Summer.
That’s right. The sun did not appear this year. The skies were dark, it was incredibly cold, and nobody, at the time, had any idea about what was happening. I mean, would you in that time?
No social media, no instant communication, absolutely no way to know if this was an act of God or a geographical event. Just darkness, frozen lakes, and ruined agriculture.
So, what actually happened? The main theory is that Mount Tambora, a volcano located in Indonesia, erupted. It blew enough ash into the sky to blanket the entire world’s skies.
Today, if this happened, everyone would know the what and the why. Breaking news would be everywhere and social media would be erupting itself. Tomorrow, newspapers would inform those who are still analogue in the world.
International relief efforts would kick in, and responses would be worldwide. There’d be warnings to the populace, and as technology has advanced to an extreme level, there may even be ways to clean the skies.
We have a great advantage today. Technology is easily accessible, and most of us are connected to the web. But don’t you ever feel… overwhelmed?
The point we want to make is that data, in all forms, has become a problem. There’s an abundance of information, even for the everyday Joe. We’re drowning in data.
The life of the past was but a simple one. Don’t look down on it. People went about their lives with a different kind of stress. Sure, we have medicine now, so we don’t have that stress anymore. But we now have an abundance of information.
Let’s compare the technology of 1816 with the present day, and see how data impacted us.
Semaphore Vs Smartphone
Napoleon used the semaphore, and it revolutionized the world. Using a flag in each hand, you can relay messages through signals from long distances, provided there’s a semaphore tower within visual reach. Records suggest messages delivered at 192 km/hr.
Compared with smartphones, the semaphore doesn’t even compare. Instantaneous delivery of information, even with low signals. Estimates say there are between seven and nine billion mobile phones in use around the globe. As a result, every ninth person owns two!
Carrier Pigeons Vs Social Media
Carrier pigeons are a marvel, aren’t they? How do they know where to go? Never mind.
Carrier pigeons were the quickest way to get information from someone. It’s why Twitter’s logo is a bird, and why there’s a character limit. No paragraphs on those tiny pieces of paper! Fun fact, they also had an average speed of 150 km/hour and were used to announce the outcome of the Battle of Waterloo!
Now we have social media. Each year, we Tweet 20 billion times, share 950 billion things on Facebook, and upload around 10 million hours of video to YouTube, and they’re all shared instantly, with differing limits. I’d still prefer the birds, though.
Town Crier Vs TV
Who doesn’t love a town crier today? Back in the day, so did everyone else, as it was the only way to receive up-to-date information. Remember, reading and writing were a luxury for the upper class!
Now, compared to TV, there isn’t really any competition. Sure, the way we view media is changing rapidly, but the TV is still how millions across the globe stay up to date on their information.
Insight In Data
We don’t live in the 1800s anymore. We live in the 21st century. Sure, semaphores, carrier pigeons, and town criers do still exist, but they’re a novelty now (aside from semaphore’s guiding aircraft).
There’s an abundance of information, and it’s getting out of hand. Without the training to get it under control, or even the insight, we’ll just continue to be bombarded by it, at every turn.
So, it’s up to you to filter out the noise. To find the data that’s most important to you. Only want breaking news notifications about a specific topic? Adjust your news app. Social media taking too much of your time? Ditch them, or stick to one.
Filter, filter, filter, and then filter some more. Identify the essential information, and make only that accessible to you.
Making Data Work In Modern Times
Whilst you may be getting swarmed by an abundance of information, it doesn’t mean you have to go it alone. There are plenty of apps out there that can make your life a lot easier. It’s just a matter of setting them up and putting them to work.
Syntagium is a dashboard company, so using data well is our thing. Whilst you can use dashboards to refine data however you like, even social media, there are other options that are more friendly to the average person. Take a look.
Buffer & IFTTT
Buffer & IFTTT let different API’s speak to one another. Buffer’s more aimed at businesses, IFTTT is more aimed at the average person. Both work similarly, where if something specific happens, which you set, it triggers a reaction.
Let’s say I receive an invitation to a meeting through Google Calendar, and I use Evernote as my note-taking app. Using IFTTT, or Buffer, I can have all my meetings automatically added to my Evernote notes. It’s simple things like this that can save you some time.
Sick of having to click through multiple social media sites? Then Hootsuite is for you!
Hootsuite is a social media management dashboard where you can import all your social media accounts into one place, and post from there as well. It’s great if social media is a hobby or even a moneymaker for you.
There’s a free plan where you can import a maximum of 2 accounts, so it’s free to try. But if you’re a true social media savant, the paid plan will make things a lot easier for you.
Come on, we had to mention ourselves! It’s only natural.
Cloud dashboards can import as much information as you’d like, and visualise the data with easy to read graphs, charts, and headlines. We’ve yet to find an actual limit of what data can be made useful.
Mainly used for business settings, they can also be used for more personal endeavours. You can set up your household budget, make your accounting easier, even track your time and exercise stats.
Cloud dashboards are entirely custom and can be set up in absolutely any way you desire. You can learn it all through some time and effort. But you can also save yourself the time, and just have us do it. Send us a message if this interests you, we’re friendly, we promise!
The takeaway from all of this is to make sure your data is a useful tool and not something that overwhelms you. Data is beautiful, it always has been, but you won’t be able to see the tree if the forest looms over you.
It’s hard to say how data will progress in the future. The previous 30 years have changed data in such a drastic way, that the next 30 years could be impossible to predict. It’s exciting, but it can also be daunting.
Just know, that no matter how data changes, we’ll always be on top of it. You can count on us to turn data into something easily understandable, and appealing.
If you’re struggling with your data already, contact us and let us know. Let’s see what we can do for you.