There are so many great and important ideas in the article, I hardly know where to start. So, if my experience tells me that’s its a few "big
ideas" that matter more than most choices in life–you won’t find me touting career paths in computer science, medicine, law,
business, physics or math–you’ll have to bear with me as I point to the ideas below and in posts yet to come, some others.
I’ve highlighted the relevant text but you should read the whole
yourself–even the longer paper referred to by it–rather than rely on
my restatements here. Stephenson’s ideas apply not just to
government, but to every sphere of life, even to oneself.
"My argument is that government can transform itself both internally and externally, improving performance, lowering costs, and building public support and involvement, through a combination of:
* automated (preferably, real-time) data feeds, at first behind the firewall, and then externally as well, in a variety of formats such as RSS and KML
* easy access for both employees and (again, eventually) the public, to the growing number of easy-to-use Web 2.0 data visualization tools that allow taking data that may be hard to understand in tabular form and instead turn it into eye-catching and informative visualizations — plus Web 2.0 tools such as tags, topic hubs, and threaded discussions that encourage sharing the data and insights — and increase the chance of ‘wisdom of crowds’ knowledge emerging as a result!"
Get the data out there where you (and those few others
with whom you work most closely) can see it by the cold light of day. It means
you have to get out of your head and onto paper (I still think it’s better) or
screen. First approximations or rough cuts are marvelously useful, perfection
is not needed at the start—probably never.
Announce yourself what the data shows—even when
diametrically opposed to what you’ve been saying. Reinventing oneself is the
key to survival, growth, opportunity and ultimately stability and contentment .
. . one becomes content with the process of change, not the state one is
presently in—as we know from physics it is easy to be fooled by a meta-stable
Communicate your data to all. Go public–it may not be
the global community or even your neighborhood; perhaps just other groups at work. Do so in a way that people can grasp intuitively—or with
minimal explanation. If the office assistant, janitor or supply room stocking
clerk doesn’t understand it—it’s too dense; get away from the tables and move
to simple graphs. Tufte shows the way with his simple design beauty.
I’m not so sure about the "wisdom of crowds", but a group convened for the purpose is surely smarter and more effective, when well led, than the genius working alone.