• http://twitter.com/Winooski Winooski

    I dunno, I’m a little skeptical about the degree to which modern “infographic” visual representations actually bring insight into relationships of multiple variables. There’s no denying their appeal, especially if the infographic producer wants to use them to intimidate the user into thinking that the producer has some intellectual “secret sauce” at work (“Whoa, that’s so complex…these guys MUST be super smart!”), but most of these types of representations I’ve seen in, e.g., Wired or Scientific American seem to obscure as much as they purport to make clear.

    The glimpses of Project Cascade follow suit. So there you are, having generated this gorgeous 3D-graph-plus-video-game that seems to represent the relationships between a specific instance of content generation and the myriad social network events and (hopefully) subsequent conversion events, and the question is: So what? Just because you now have God-like abilities to discern each drop of water in this gushing Niagara of data doesn’t mean you have God-like abilities to repeat that waterfall, i.e., understand the phenomenon to the extent that you can replicate it reliably. *That’s* what Project Cascade users would really want, not just the cool-looking data representation.

    And that’s not to say that the attempt to understand and harness data is a waste of time, just that being able to represent a phenomenon in a supremely complex system is not the same as being able to repeat it reliably. In the end, I have more faith in our abilities to take snapshots than in our abilities to recreate the picture.