Thursday, July 11, 2013

Can Tableau grow up and escape Flatland?

Tableau was conceived and born in Flatland, in the Data province, where it brought forth a new and wonderful vision for how data could be organized, oriented, seen, and made sense of.

Before Tableau (BT) it was very difficult for people to achieve understanding of their data. They could make the long, arduous trip to the Hall of Data Custodians and Seers, lugging their data to turn over to the Hall's appointed gatekeepers and, if lucky, receive a notice of a proposed tentative future date upon which they could return to the Hall and receive some shiny tableaux containing everything they needed to know about their data. If they were very, very lucky, and the gatekeepers weren't otherwise occupied with more pressing matters there might even be a perfunctory interview in which the data owner would have the opportunity to express his or her ideas about what it might be interesting to know about the data. Which normally got garbled somewhere along the line, if not disregarded by the Chief High All-Knowing Consultodian who was ultimately powerful and, rumor had it, all knowing.

Or the data owner could take his data and dump it into the Excel-lent data munger where the impenetrably complex gears and grinders would chew, swallow, and digest the data before excreting it in seemingly semi-coherent piles that were sometimes plain rectangular lumps, sometimes ornate, highly decorated, and garishly colored conglomerations of shapes and forms of all types and sizes.

All in all, BT was an impoverished time in Data, Flatland. Although there were great stores and mines of data riches there was precious little value being extracted from it for the benefit of the data's owners – those benefits being realized were very nearly exclusively for the benefit of the Rulers, a bunch of linear overlords, for whom the Hall of Data Custodians and Seers worked, in exchange for continued employment and elevated status.

to be continued

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