As we progress through the stages of our work with the Joseph Rowntree foundation, I’ve picked up a lot of different nuggets of information; both practical and theoretical.
Interviews and Stakeholder Engagement
We are currently moving from desk-based research to directly interacting with stakeholders, and I’ve started to see the project come to life. In a meeting with Jeni and Alan last week, we explored what stakeholder engagement really means in the context of this project. This really clarified our aims, and was essential for a clearer view of what we are looking for in our interviews. Essentially, our role is to find a shared problem and discover what can be done to solve it. That’s what the insight infrastructure aims to do. To fill the gap and provide a useful service.
One thing that stuck out to me throughout the interviews I’ve hosted so far is that in most cases, more data is not the answer. Organisations are looking for detail and evidence. The work that people are doing in attempts to solve poverty and economic inequality in the United Kingdom needs examples of work that solves poverty and economic inequality. There needs to be a clear aim and action that comes along with the data. In hindsight, that seems almost quite obvious but it took me quite a while to grasp that completely.
On a practical note, I’ve learned over time that interviews are only really as scary as you make them out to be. Following a clear structure and having a deep understanding of what we’re trying to find out from the interviews has been really helpful for me. I am still quite nervous before an interview starts, but I’m sure that will only improve in practice. So I’m looking forward to future conversations throughout this project and onwards!
Collective Decision-Making in Award Shows?
On a less serious note, Maria and I had a conversation about the Grammy’s and how thinking about them from a ‘Connected By Data’ lens, can add a different perspective to some of their main “issues”. The Grammy’s and a lot of other award shows receive a lot of flack when their audiences believe that the decisions made are unfair because they don’t necessarily reflect them. Whilst, it can be argued that music is subjective and thus, it’s quite arbitrary for a song to be judged ‘the best record of year’ etc; the results of award shows elicit quite strong reactions, nonetheless.
Now whilst awards show results don’t have as much impact on our daily lives as data does, it can be argued that they struggle with similar decision-making issues. Perhaps if award show decisions were made on a more collective basis, with inputs from a diverse range of music-related stakeholders, rather than top-down, proclaimed music experts, there would be less distrust in the ‘award-show system’. Additionally, meaningful inclusion of the views of the wider music community may add a sense of legitimacy to the results and thus, increase the significance of them in a way that is not linked to the supposed expertise of the current decision-makers.
Additionally, it should be noted that I am not proposing that award shows should be decided solely based on the artist with the most votes, as that does not directly address the problem and there are already award shows that are decided this way. I’m suggesting a more intentional and deliberative means of deciding which artists win awards, which can be supported by wider inclusion in the decision-making process.
All of this is to say that the implementation of a community-based approach in decision-making processes seems to reap benefits within and outside of the data sector. Using the Grammy’s in place of the ‘data ecosystem’ has really helped in clarifying what it is about meaningful collective participation that is beneficial for all.