Coffee & Empathy: Why Data Without A Soul Is Meaningless

While on my way back from New York, for some odd reason I started playing around with Foursquare and plotting my check-in data using a handful of apps. Very quickly I realised two things: the amount of time I spend in aeroplanes has doubled every year since 2009, and when I am in San Francisco, I lead a very predictable life and go to only a handful of places — a lot.

Except for one small thing: While the data shows that I lead a pretty boring life, it doesn’t reflect the “emotions” behind the data. Why, you might ask, is this important? The answer is that as we move towards a quantified society, one shaped by data, we start to dismiss things that aren’t easily quantifiable. Empathy, emotion and storytelling — these are as much a part of the business as they are of life. Without these, we might as well residents of starliner Axiom.

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