Your conference data is alive. Well, it may not be alive like you, but it has a lot of things in common with you as a living being.
Your data is an organization of information that develops like any living creature. Your conference data – each abstract submission – is an idea that forms and grows; succeeds or fails. It’s kind of a beautiful thing.
We talk about ideas “gestating.” Who hasn’t heard the metaphor about “birthing ideas?”
We call companies that support new business ideas “incubators.”
There’s a reason why we relate data and ideas to the language of life. It’s because connecting data and forming ideas is central to what makes us human. We tend to animate the things we care about.
We’ve also heard of large bureaucracies “where great ideas go to die.” But, unlike real living, breathing creatures, ideas don’t have to die. Ideas can live forever, growing and developing ever more broadly. For example, gravity was first described by Isaac Newton in 1687, yet there are thousands of scientists who continue to develop the idea today.
That doesn’t mean ideas “can’t” die. In fact, ideas die all the time… buried in piles of dusty books, undistributed and undiscovered.
Richard Stimac, Mira’s business development manager, often talks about “the data lifecycle” because, he says, it gets people out of the mindset of data as a storage problem. “Instead of a software solution, let’s start thinking of (data) as an abstract lifecycle solution.”
Your conference data is a valuable product. To your most involved and engaged members, your data may be among the top reasons they renew their memberships every year.
Identifying the data lifecycle is essential to extracting the most value from each abstract submission. That’s where thoughtful data management really works for your organization. Your conference is a public incubator for ideas. It’s the place where ideas debut to a community of passionate experts (your members) who will nurture and develop them. If they can find them.
Making those ideas – that data – easily accessible to as many people as possible should be a goal of any research society.
Ultimately, your data lives in a “library” and is searchable for your stakeholders. How your organization manages that library can make a significant impact on the success of failure of that idea and, by extension, your organization.
When you have your next conversation about submissions and sessions, think about the context of data in the greater scheme of a lifecycle. Positioning that data for its highest and best purpose may be the key to creating a lasting, meaningful library that can change the world.
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