Jen van der Meer

Data is Not Oil – Data is Love

Published: (Updated: ) in Business Models, Open Data by .

Why do we still keep using the metaphors of the industrial age to describe the opportunities we see?

Data is not oil.

Data was not formed over millions of years.

Data was not extracted from deep underneath the earth’s crust.

Data is not derived from the fossilized remains of dead organisms.

Notice the words we use:

We extract data.

We mine data.

We monetize data.

We plumb the depths of the data.

These extractive industrial era metaphors create limiting beliefs, that reduce our possibilities for imagining a preferable future.

In your next brainstorm, trying to wrestle with digital business models – kill the oil metaphor that limits the imagination, upside, and optionality.

Let’s try a new metaphor for use in your next “how do we leverage digital business models” ideation session.

Data = love.

Love can be temporal.

Love can be fleeting.

But enduring love grows richer over time.

To love is to trust, to earn trust.

Love is available.

Love is accessible.

Love is not hidden away from the people that need it most.

Love gets stronger through interaction.

Love can be unrequited.

Love doesn’t always work out, and needs to be unwound.

Love needs rituals.

To feel loved is to feel heard, understood, and cherished.

Then in your next “which workflows should we replace with AI and Machine Learning” customer journey mapping exercise remember:

Humans struggle to love well.

Machines can often predict better than humans.

Most would still rather be loved by a human than a machine.

What if data helped us love.

Alexa, Siri, answer this question:

How do we imagine preferable data-informed futures with more interaction, trust, openness, and love?

How do data interactions help us not just solve problems, but be our best selves, and achieve our human potential?