Data as a source for creativity

This is the written version of the talk that Sonia Jalfin gave in La Nación. If scrolling does not overwhelm you, go ahead with the reading! If you like videos, you can watch it here (in Spanish):

A good part of our work is to catch other people’s attention. We need toso they can implement our ideas, buy our products, hire our services and much more.

We might think that catching people’s attention should be easy today -we have more communication tools than ever, that are more sophisticated, easy to use and cheaper. But in real life it is not that simple. We have trouble taking advantage of all these channels because we are constantly being stalked by three fearsome monsters.

Here they may seem nice, but they are not. They do ruthless things to us.

The first one makes us tremble.
The second one can freeze us.
The third one has the power of fire, it burns us.

Hello, monster of change

This monster shakes the floor under our feet.

From the organizations we work in, to the technology we use, everything is constantly changing. We have nothing to hold on when everything around us is moving.

Whatever industry we work in, the risk of being hacked by new players, probably from other industries or by external factors, ranges between being a latent threat to an absolute certainty.

Our audience freezes us

Every message we send to a citizen, a customer or a user will be competing on their cell phone with a friend’s photo, a celebrity’s story or a message from his mother.

If our users are teenagers we can have some chances that they will pay more attention to us than to their mothers, but not always.

Last year’s Mery Meeker report at the Code Conference, one of the most respected trends analysis on the web, showed that 81% of users mute the audio when seeing a advertisement on the web.

The third monster burns our head

We are overwhelmed with the enormous amount of data and information we receive.

The Internet Observatory in Argentina, whose platform we developed in Sociopublico, shows that 69,978 hours of videos were viewed on YouTube since you started reading this note, approximately 90 seconds ago, and 20,972 tweets were published. And this is only in Argentina!

How can we manage to be heard in the middle of this frenzy?

That is the question that makes us sleepless at Sociopublico. Because we are dedicated to communicate complex ideas and we know that the only way to be heard is to build something that is truly relevant to others. Something that serves them and speaks directly to what interests them.

One of the most fruitful ways to explore this is the world of data. It’s not just about using analytics to better segment a video or choose the right time to publish something. That’s good, but there is something else we can do: take the data generated by our activity and use it as raw materials for our own communication. Data can be the central input and protagonist of a relevant communication, one that reaches and engages with the public: data can integrate into our conversation and add value to what we do.

Here we share four ideas to include data as the center of our communications:

Data — public or private — can be an input to build public goods. Telefónica in Argentina, a telco company, shared its data with the government of the city of Neuquén to create a better urban mobility plan. MasterCard shared this year their data on business trips and analyzed them with Harvard researchers to better understand how the movement of people with a lot of knowledge influences the economy of countries. Whether you look at this from the point of view of an organization that produces knowledge, from a government, or from a company, this path opens up new possibilities and allows you to join forces in a way that until recently was impossible.

Data can also provide a service. Be useful to someone. Properati, a real estate company, took the inventory of trees in the city and matched their location with the housing offer, creating a tool that’s useful for those allergic to the platanus seeds, a very allergenic and popular tree in Buenos Aires, so they can know where it’s safe for them to move to.

Sometimes in order to show clearly how data relates to our audience, it’s enough just to reorganize the existing data. In this way data is a mirror, not a projector. Here is an example of this.

Tell us how your family is made up, we will tell you how many families in the country looks like yours

This is an interactive by the NY Times with the census data from the United States. Instead of showing all the available data — the immensity of data that makes a census — they began by asking the user about theirfamily. That allows them to tell them information relevant to their families, and not about the statistical data that is quite far from us.

Many times people won’t remember what we said, but they will remember how we made them feel. This can also be achieved with data-based communication. Take this case:

This is not any bread with tomato

This is a bread with tomato, a typical Catalan food. But it is not any bread with tomato. This bread came out of ‘data cuisine’, a hackathon of chefs, designers and programmers. It shows the evolution of youth unemployment in Spain. The green line is the growing youth unemployment rate. As unemployment increases, bread has less and less tomato, becoming drier and harder to eat. So, when you eat this bread with tomato, we literally swallow a piece of information. Quite an experience.

To sum up, we can use data to build public goods, services or experiences. We need all these ideas. They all ultimately point to the same goal: connect with others. If we succeed, our audience is more likely to listen to us, and we can keep the monsters at bay.

What comes after social media?

For quite some time, social media has been portrayed as the antagonists in an endless Netflix like series, much like the endless scroll we navigate with our fingers. They’re a sinister character in the sense Freud described, naming something as familiar as it is terrifying. There’s nothing more familiar than logging into Instagram, X, or […]

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