Klossner: The link between IT dashboards and '80s hair bands

Whatever the format, whatever the hardware, bad data is still bad data.

My 12 year-old daughter has access to several computers in our home. Each computer has iTunes. Her father's iTunes folder currently stores 5.3 days worth of music, in case he finds himself in a situation in which he is stranded and unable to do anything but listen to his iTunes collection for 5.3 days. My daughter also has access to a stereo, along with a couple hundred music CDs stored on bookshelves, under chairs and between couch pillows. If she were to brave the trek to our attic, she would find a couple hundred LP albums in boxes. My daughter has an iPod of her own, although I don't know how many days of music she has on it. When my daughter was 2 years old, she wanted to hear Ella Fitzgerald's greatest hits over and over. Despite hearing "A Tisket A Tasket" in my head all day, I was thrilled that my daughter and I would share musical tastes. I couldn't wait until we attended our first Beatles tribute-band performance together.

And now she is walking around this same home singing Journey songs at the top of her lungs.

At the risk of insulting the armies of Journey fans now working for the federal government, Journey -- for those of you who were not around at the time or who have had memories erased by the trauma -- was one of the most popular “big hair bands” in the 1980s. I would have to say they are best known for anthemic-synthesizer and guitar-oriented songs that filled the arenas and stadiums where they appeared. In the controlled radio formats of the time, you couldn't go more than an hour or two without hearing a Journey song.

Journey is seeing a renaissance with the renewed interest in 80’s pop music in general and the opportunities for new media to be used in reviewing the original material. For example, Journey has become very popular on YouTube as a source for video spoofs of their original music videos, with one remake even winning a film festival award. Their songs are also being covered by other musical acts, which is where my daughter discovered the song she now sings at the top of her lungs several times a day.

This is what the evolution of technology has brought us. We can find music in many different formats, aurally and visually. We can store it on a wide variety of hardware. We can take it with us, making it accessible everywhere in our worlds.

But it's still a Journey song.

This brings me to IT dashboards. Dashboards are a technology that takes data and gives graphic presentations of the data and its performance. For example, a chart or graph can be created representing a program's schedule -- if the program is on schedule, it stays green, if it slips or falls behind schedule, it turns yellow or red, depending upon how much it is falling behind. It is a fairly straightforward concept, and has been around for some time, and it is finding renewed popularity with the new administration.

There are problems, however, and they have nothing to do with the technology. They are almost all data-related. Too much data, not enough data, data that takes too long to interpret, or the wrong data in general are all potential dashboard problems. Think of it as having a 64G iPod touch with in-ear headphones and 5.3 days with nothing to do. And all you have on it is a single Journey song.

Welcome to my world.

John Klossner FCW Dashboards

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