My fellow Swarthmore alumnus Simon St. Laurent introduced me to the concept that Excel is really a programming language rather than a simple spreadsheet tool. Not only do I agree with this sentiment, but I also think it has a profound impact on how we use data in presentations.
In short, if Excel is a programming language, tables are code and thus should only appear in presentations when absolutely necessary.
Science fiction writer John Scalzi recently offered up an entry on his popular blog (well, more popular than mine at any rate) to Bruce Schneier, author of Data & Goliath. The book explores the increasingly large role of individuals’ data in both governmental and commercial circles, everything from tracking terrorism to determining how people drive their cars. Schneier asks how individuals can make informed choices on sharing data in these parlous times.
Schneier summarizes his thesis in the brief post, but I’d like to excerpt a few key quotes.
Again and again, it’s the same trade-off: individual value versus group value.
I believe this is the fundamental issue of the information age, and solving it means careful thinking about the specific issues and a moral analysis of how they affect our core values….
When possible, we need to figure out how to get the best of both: how to design systems that make use of our data collectively to benefit society as a whole, while at the same time protecting people individually.
Plenty more worth reading and asking yourself: am I, as a marketer, using data in a way that benefits only me, or do my customers get a piece of the action?