2018 Keynote Speaker

Photograph of Stephen Few

2018 HEDW Keynote Speaker: Stephen Few

Monday, April 9, 2019 at 8:00 am
Oregon State University, The LaSells Stewart Center, Austin Auditorium

Data is Not the Solution

In recent years, data has become an object of worship. We’ve come to expect salvation from data, but data, in and of itself, provides no solutions. Data only becomes valuable when it leads to understanding. As our storehouses of data are now increasing at an exponential rate, our understanding is not. In fact, our understanding is often diminished by data. Data can make us dumb.

We don’t need more data; we need more understanding. Data professionals can do their work in ways that increase understanding, but few do. You can become an exception, but not by conducting business as usual. In higher education, data can be used to help students learn more effectively. This is the primary outcome that matters. The solution does not reside in data. The solution potentially resides in you.

In his HEDW keynote address, Stephen Few will show how data professions, as routinely performed, are creating more confusion than understanding, more problems than solutions. He will go on to describe the shift in focus that must occur for data professionals and their organizations to produce the understanding that is needed to create a better world. In the world of higher education, this shift in focus is critical.


See his presentation notes here: Data Is Not the Solution

Stephen Few – Bio

Stephen Few is on a mission to help organizations squeeze real value from the mounds of data that threaten to bury them. Through his consultancy, Perceptual Edge, Stephen teaches simple, clear, and practical data visualization techniques for exploring, analyzing, and communicating quantitative information. With 35 years of data sensemaking and information design experience, he speaks, teaches, and consults internationally and is the author of five popular books: Show Me the Numbers: Designing Tables and Graphs to Enlighten, Information Dashboard Design: The Effective Visual Communication of Data, Now You See It: Simple Visualization Techniques for Quantitative Analysis, Signal: Understanding What Matters in a World of Noise, and Big Data, Big Ruse: A Little Book About a Big Bunch of Nonsense. You can learn more about Stephen’s work at www.perceptualedge.com.