Thursday, July 1, 2010

Scalable Relevant Data

Last night, I went to a fascinating event to help nonprofits think about potential uses for Foursquare. This link to a post by Farra Trompeter, one of the organizers, does an excellent idea of summarizing the content of the talk. I enjoy how dynamic the FourSquare experience is.

When I went to San Francisco, there were tips and check-ins from my friends. This made it easier to go to places that I would not have found otherwise. The Met Museum is tapping into this feature with tips about pieces of art. My favorite example is a footprint on one of Pollack's paintings in the permanent collection. Since the Brooklyn Museum is both a meeting place for Brooklyn residents and  a stay-cation destination for residents of other boroughs, more of the staff tips relate to the neighborhood around the museum.

What is great about FourSquare is that people already are using it. The trick is finding ways to make the data useful-- be it for you as an individual or as an institution people are checking in to. From the talk last night, it sounds like only select data is available. The information that would be most powerful (Are repeat visitors also museum members? Who is here because of something they read on the site?) is not being tracked. If you could find reliable ways of gathering that data, you can use it to improve the user experience.

This all taps into my last job, managing support services for a data driven internet company. It has me thinking differently about what my next job could look like. My success at finding easy ways to collect the relevant data points in facilities, space planning, events, mail, and reception is a cross-disciplinary skill. There are places like museums that still don't have the useful data that they easily could. in part because of clunky interdepartmental communication. Is there a job where you talk with lot of people in a company to figure out what data they need?  The larger a place gets, the more necessary an internal interpreter can be.

Job applications: 1
Networking events: 1
New contacts: 3

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