Harnessing the chaos of abundance


Two symptoms of the movement: “me-ification” and infographics

The movement, in this case, is towards harnessing the chaos of abundance: the abundance of information, media, and resources, for instance. There is the “Big Data” crusade, which is firms wanting to make sense of their troves of unstructured stored data. There are news aggregators helping to filter the deluge of news media. And, there are firms like Mechanical Turk, Yelp, and AngiesList, that help people and organizations find human resources or other services. Amazon’s reviews help us to pick the best electric shaver or hammock. This movement will apply to regular people as the “me-ification” of the web: how does all this information help me? How can I use this information to make better decisions, improve myself, and take action?

Here’s an example. Say your new year’s resolution is to hit the treadmill more often. First off, that’s not a very SMART goal. “Walk or run 4 miles a week” is more specific. Strap a

pedometer on your wrist when you’re at the gym and track how far you’re going. Track how many steps you’re taking to and from work. Measure it week over week and set new milestones for improvement. See Jackie’s post about the Nike+ platform for a case in point.

What if your new year’s resolution were to respond to emails more promptly? Let’s track our emails and see what our average response time is weekly. Stephen Wolfram has been doing something like this for years. Wolfram Alpha, his eponymous data analytics software company and self-named “computational knowledge engine”, is pioneering the field for hobbyists, although it seems overwhelmingly esoteric at first. Their mission is “to make all systematic knowledge immediately computable and accessible to everyone” - pretty bold.

Another indicator of our general appetite for consequential analytics is the rise of infographics. It’s not news that charts and graphs are effective at illustrating a point. Still, we are seeing new ways to depict and more effectively convey information in the form of infographics. Jackie has already pointed out a slick from Coldwell Banker. Being able to geocode data makes infographics like this one from Foursquare feasible.

The New York Times has been applauded for putting out spectacular infographics on a daily basis (here’s how). And, Facebook bought Daytum, a personal data site like Wolfram Alpha but with more sympathy for the layman, in order to have Daytum’s founders help build more “elegant and intuitive” analytical tools for the social media titan. We’ll see what they turn out over the next year or so.

In conclusion, this is all evidence to support Kim’s recent post that posited data isn’t enough, by itself. It’s necessary to present that data in a way that helps people make an informed decision more quickly and effectively. This will be a key differentiator of the 360 platform, which will be a decision tool, as much as a dashboard, for agents and brokers that want to be more accountable for growing their business. Citigroup has 250+ PhD statisticians in a research center in Bangalore trying to comb through an utterly vast amount of consumer data in order to improve advertising and ecommerce activities. That’s the type of need Onboard is satisfying at a broker/agent level in real estate.

Image Credit: Joshia Mackenzie on Flickr.com