How to make sense of information

The problem hasn’t changed: there are still people needed to make sense of information for people who can’t make sense of erm… data or the systems the data is on.

Damn. Only one sentence in and already I am trying to find words and explain and define. Information, data, systems… Let’s see if I can avoid this by using an example.

Right. Last night I was reading a bedtime story to my daughter, from the book Otje by Annie M.G. Schmidt. As happens often to me with stories by Annie M.G. Schmidt, there was something in there that triggered a thought in me.

In the story the proprietress of a diner promised one of her customers she would prepare a dish for him called ‘kaapse raasdonders‘. Just one problem: she had no idea how to prepare it. She didn’t know what the recipe was. And at the time the story was written, in 1980, this indeed presented a problem. How to find out?

Luckily, Otje’s father Tos, who was an outstanding cook, happened to walk in, he heard about her problem and he knew how to prepare the dish. What are the chances?

Well, to be honest, a little birdie (literally) had told him and Tos himself was desperately looking for a job, so it was not really a coincidence he happened to walk in.

So, there are three parties here: the one who asks, the one who knows and the intermediary (birdie).

In this case, the intermediary found out that somebody had a question, a problem that needed solving. Then the intermediary managed to get the one who had the answer (and a problem himself that needed solving) to the one who had the question.

The birdie brings it all together.

In order for the birdie to be able to do that, it needs to understand the context of the question on the one hand and on the other, the way to get to the information that is the answer and how to get it to where it is needed.

I’m just saying, just because there is a question and the answer to that question is out there, does not mean that the two will meet. It takes a little birdie to bring them together.

Get it?


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