This I am currently teaching a second-semester-freshman course on Computing with Spreadsheets. The book focuses on click-here, click-there, clicky-clicky-everywhere with formulas, functions, and graphs, but I’m trying to make the lectures go a bit beyond that – to explore questions like why the students are in the class, and what are we trying to do?
I’m thinking of creating a sort of business or note card, via something like vistaprint, to hand out at the end of class. The idea is to put it in your wallet, maybe tac it up on your cube some day (I have a few graduating seniors who are catching up on core graduation requirements) – to be reminded of some of the core tenants of IS.
The College is a Calvin College, a four-year Christian liberal arts institution based on the Christian Reformed Tradition.
So far, this is the idea I have; what do you think?
Tenets and Thoughts on Information Systems (front side of card)
Data is not information. Information is not Knowledge. Knowledge is not Wisdom. Wisdom is not Truth.
In the absence of a story but the presence of data, people may invent a story to match the data. This is dangerous.
Because of this we can not ‘let the data speak for itself’; we can, however, strive to tell a compelling story, with integrity, that stands up to scrutiny.
There are some things that can not be quantified, so it is inadvisable to make decisions based on measurable numbers alone. We call this distinction qualitative vs. quantitative metrics. (Example: If you cannot control what you cannot measure – how do you decide that you need a hair cut? Do you get out a ruler to measure your hair?)
Our measurement tools can be wonderful aids, but from this we should not forget: A fool with a tool is still a fool.
(Back Side of Card)
Clerks follow a stable, predictable, defined process. Heroes, on the other hand, take a vague and ambiguous problem, under time and resource constraints and in the face of conflicting requirements – and solve it. Managers provide vision and ensure that heroes are not taxed beyond their breaking point. Our society needs them all. Who do you want to be?
The tendency to take people and view them as numbers in a spreadsheet can be very strong; but that does not make it right.
The word ‘Truth’ appears 228 times in the the Bible, ‘Respect’ appears 44. – ‘For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?’ (Matthew 16:26, KJV)
Do you think I’m missing something important? Would a different order be helpful? Does the wording stink? Should I work harder to credit Frank Zappa or the Context Driven School of testing for the initial statements, or W. Edwards Deming for the idea that not everything can be measured? Do you think i’m fundamentally off base?
You may not like this list – I’m not super hot on it either. It turns out, condensing my philosophy of IS into a hundred words is not an easy thing. I’d like to make it better, which means I would really appreciate hearing from you.