I is for information, please? (ABCW)

Where are you trying to go?

informationWaiting for a bus recently, I had what is possibly an obvious epiphany. Sometimes the technically correct answer isn’t the answer you need.

For instance, if you were to ask me, “Where is the nearest bus stop?” I could easily point someone to it. But using what we librarians call the reference interview, maybe I should ask a few clarifying questions to make sure it’s the answer that would actually be helpful.

For instance, “Where are you trying to go?” The nearest bus stop might not be heading in the correct direction. Or that bus doesn’t operate on weekends. Or it might not be running in the middle of the day.

Recently, I happened across a guy who was waiting in downtown Albany for a specific bus in the late morning. Because I know these arcane things, I was sure that route would not be operating for another four hours! But I aware that another bus that ran every 20 or 30 minutes would get him fairly close to his destination.

I’ve mentioned before that I have to be vigilant against false information. In the cases of the former First Lady Barbara Bush, and the legendary singer Aretha Franklin, reports of their deaths came out two or three days before their passing. Why? In order to be first with incorrect reporting?

Conversely, I was sitting in a deli hearing guys talking about a woman dying from dog saliva, a story I had not heard. It turned out to be true. But one fellow said to another, “They shouldn’t report that. It’s doesn’t happen often and it’ll get people all worked up.” I disagree; the story correctly noted how RARE the phenomenon was. Intentionally not reporting it is untenable.

Check out analytics evangelist Ann Jackson on being the voice of data, overcoming imposter syndrome, and setting aside intuition. It’s something I strive for, but I haven’t gotten there yet.

For ABC Wednesday

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