Who wants to shout about something that’s gone wrong?
We have a mission at Nominet Trust to understand how the internet can be used as a force to disrupt social challenges and create positive change (when I write this, it does vaguely sound like it should also be the motto of a lesser known slightly geeky comic book hero, whose secret power is wifi.)
A lot of our work is about looking at new models for change. However, by their definition, not every new model is going to impact on a social challenge as deeply as another, and even if a model has worked in one place there’s no guarantee that it’s going to work in another. Scaling and replication is not a simple business. more >
The fact that 'Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics' is a phrase that has been in use for more than 100 years is perhaps an indication of the abuse to which data has been subjected in public discourse. We are by turns exasperated, decieved and baffled by the incessant quoting of percentages, putative correlations and trends by politicians, journalists and pundits, which we then sprinkle into our conversations (tweets, facebook updates) in more or less thoughtful, balanced ways. Usually less.
If we are to harness the potential of open data to allow us to ask better questions, and make better choices, we need to consider what kinds of conversation allow us to reach an informed consensus, rather than afford 'victory' to the most skillful orator with the weightiest arsenal of 'killer stats'. more >
Seeing pictures, it seems, is a deceptively tricky business. Leonardo Da Vinci suggested we might look at a stain on a wall and see "heads of men, diverse animals, battles, rocks, seas, clouds, woods and similar things". Our imagination can powerfully alter the mental image we create for ourselves: what we see is only partially determined by what we're looking at. Crucially, our imagination is directed by our intention: a professional Renaissaince wall-cleaner, for example, might have seen in Leonardo's stain only an embarrassing mistake (or a business opportunity). more >
I had a very interesting chat the other day with a researcher. I won’t say who, and I won’t say where. So essentially this could be part of an elaborate storytelling ploy.
It centred on why we are using logic models and theories of change as the basis of our new evaluation strategy when they’re not perfect tools to understand change. At least not when compared to deep, longitudinal ethnographic research.
As anyone will tell you, whether they are a secret evaluation geek or not (just me with my hand up?) evaluation can be a bit tricky. The fact is human and societal change is complex and messy. But if we want to progress our field, like any field of endeavour, we have to learn from what we have done to move forwards. more >
Interest in open data has been growing for a few years now, long enough for its death to have been both predicted and declared. Charities in England and Wales are all already on the Open Data map, via the Charity Commission’s public register. The Commission is working to allow more flexible access to this information, while initiatives such as opencharities are exposing both the potential and current limitations of the register as a rich, malleable data source. more >