Egyptian reflections

Slightly brain-fried after two and a half days of an excellent conference – great minds, lots of challenge, but just enough gaps between the discipline/subject experts for me to ask questions. And now on my way to the House of Lords for a lecture by the excellent Peter Hennessy (now Lord), so a hastily typed note that will need unpacking at some point in the future.

One of the applications we’ve talked about for SenseMaker is the pre-hoc/post-hoc approach. Collecting large volumes of signified data from the day-to-day experiences of a group to see general patterns is useful and illuminating. Where it becomes more interesting is after a major event has taken place within the group – and then having experts and/or decision-makers revisit the micro-narratives and then signify them with the benefit of hindsight.

From there, it should be straightforward to build algorithms that spot emergent patterns within a large dataset that then issue alerts – emphatically not prediction, or even anticipation, but “anticipatory awareness”. It’s been a project that excited me, but requires a degree of serendipity for it to happen.

I was enjoying the conference so much, it didn’t dawn on me until this morning that in December 2009, as part of the Children of the World pilots, we collected almost 2,000 narratives from pupils in Egypt. To my naive eye, in the space of 10 minutes, I could see some significant signals within the data, but this requires some more analysis – particularly to compare those patterns with others that might be in the Jordan and KSA data that we also gathered for Children of the World…

If I’m not going into the local schools on Friday for National Storytelling Week (which I may), you can expect to find me in front of a SenseMaker screen shouting each time I spot something.

Can you tell how excited I am at this??