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Kaleidoscope of Data (Part 2)

Mar 17, 2011

Dr. Stefan Biancaniello’s 2nd offering in the “Kaleidoscope of Data” series. Look for the 3rd installation next Thursday, March 24th.

Let’s begin this talk by revisiting last week’s thoughts. So what about that image of a kaleidoscope of data, just how does that work? Well, first we must think of each one of those tiny colored crystals as a unique piece of information. Each color could represent a category of data. That means that individual pieces of the same color or shades of the color could represent discrete and distinct information within that category.

Alright so now you are probably thinking, “what does that mean? “ Here is an example; if all of the green crystals represent attendance information, then each piece could be a different type of attendance data, (daily attendance, classroom attendance, afterschool program attendance, tutoring attendance etc.). Red crystals might be standardized test scores, (Terra Nova, SAT, PSSA ACT etc). Are you getting the picture? What is contained in the transparent end of our kaleidoscope are pieces of data representing a vast array of information that filters into our vision. The cylinder provides a focus on those data. As we turn the cylinder, those pieces of data intermingle and generate colorful, and interesting arrays, of color combinations. Following our scenario then, these combinations of color pieces represent the inter connectivity of pieces of data. The pictures or designs that are unfolding depict how those pieces of data are interacting to create a situational reality. In that space and time we can observe how different pieces of information interact and the resulting evidence that interaction produces. Sometimes the pieces partially cover each other in the array and prism new color mixes. If we are paying attention we can spot those subtle variations in the colors as they overlap and if we are strategic we can gain insight into the impact of the overlaps on the picture or design in that specific moment in time.

So, if we know what the data are within our lens, we have the potential to understand how each piece of data impacts the other and the situation at that moment. If we shift the focus and turn the cylinder, the data pieces move, the picture changes, and a new pattern of data interaction exists. At this point it is important to remember that the pattern, the data mix, we are observing is volatile because with a slight turn of the cylinder the image shifts. When the crystals move the picture changes , the data rearranges and new design emerges. So let’s stop here and revisit this kaleidoscope analogy to insure it is making sense. The data we use daily to measure and monitor, motivate and manage may exist as discrete pieces of information, however that information interacts in a dynamic process that we must learn to read and understand.

That my friends will be the focus of our next conversation.

Category: explanatory

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