This post runs alongside a related piece published by Francis Gagnon here.


As you may or may not have noticed, we are living through a rather interesting time, to say the least. Indeed some may prefer I use far stronger words than interesting, but this is a family show.

We in the western societies, at least, are experiencing a period where our experts (and their expertise) are marginalised, where truths and facts are being trampled upon by blatant falsehoods, which can be mobilised far more quickly than their corrections. Intertwined amongst all this are fascinating contemporary themes about communication, about the medium of information and the notion of understanding, about the receptiveness and literacies of people.

The data visualisation field - the deliberately narrow vista I'm concerned with just for the framing of this - has a stake in and a part-responsibility for how we navigate through these choppy waters and reach the other side in a better state. This community is comprised of creators, contributors, consumers and commentators on the use of data and/or information to communicate to others. Collectively there is a lot for us to offer.

To that extent, at the 2017 Tapestry Conference, taking place next Wednesday 1st March in Florida, Francis Gagnon and I wanted to positively exploit an occasion that brings together a concentrated footfall of different skills, knowledges and experiences to collate thoughts about what actions you think we (in this community) could or should take. More specifically, what things do we need to do more of and what things do we need to do less of?

That is the simple instruction we will be presenting to visitors to our poster stand at the conference. We will offer a blank canvas for people to submit their ideas using pens and post-it notes and will spend the allocated time across the day building up a collection of the contributions made. We will then capture all we have received and share the comments through our various website and social media platforms.

You don't have to be present in person to contribute, though, and we welcome suggestions from afar via Twitter, for example. We will be using the hashtags #whatcanwedo and (during this event) #tapestryconf so send in your thoughts. If you ARE attending in person, take this posting as a 'heads-up' to get you to think about what you might feel is a worthy action to consider including in this gathering exercise.

Beyond this conference, we would be delighted to pass on the baton by inviting other people to run similar exercises at other meetup or conference events characterised by a coming-together of bright, concerned but energised people from a community that has such a rich tapestry (pun absolutely intended).


Data Stories podcast: Episode 92, Rosling Tribute
Archiving my collection of places to access data