Monday, September 13, 2010

"Don't be seduced by visualization..."

"Don't be seduced by visualization.  It can be cool for data wonks.  But you need to focus on real users who are trying to solve a problem."

That was Tim O'Reilly at the World Bank last week, speaking at the opening of a session discussing the Apps for Development competition.  

Tim told me he had never been to the World Bank before.  But many of his words of wisdom apply more broadly to aid initiatives.  Try replacing "apps" with "projects" in the following quotes:

"It may be the case that you invent apps that no one uses."
"Look at other apps to see if you can become part of their ecosystem."
"It may well be that you don't have the right data for your cool new app."
"Think of your app as a component rather than a platform."
"Don't assume your app will be used in isolation."

The purpose of the session I attended was to prime the ideas pump for apps.  Someone at my table suggested an app that allows users to tell developers what kind of app users would find useful.  In light of this previous post, you can imagine that I seconded that person's suggestion.