Famous for their thought-provoking and inspirational “talks,” TEDx events were created in the spirit of TED’s mission, ideas worth spreading. The program is designed to stimulate dialogue at the local level and TEDx events are fully planned and coordinated independently, on a community-by-community basis.
Dr. Chris Fulcher, Co-Director the Center for Applied Research and Environmental Systems (CARES) at the University of Missouri gave a talk at the recent TEDxCoMo event where he shared parts of his story growing up, the Community Commons and discussed some of the opportunities and challenges associated with technology and data. Held at the historic Missouri Theatre in Columbia, Missouri, TEDxCoMo was produced by Keith Politte and Cale Sears.
Fulcher discussed growing up in various countries and how it influenced his passion for geography, data visualization and pattern recognition. It was this background that helped create a national Internet-based public good utility, the Community Commons. Fulcher also recognized while there is a push for Internet-based data visualization tools there are still challenges associated with their application.
“It’s a balance of using technologies and data in the appropriate way that aids decision-making,” Fulcher said. “…Not having technologies overwhelm or abdicating what we do as decision makers and saying ‘technologies will provide the answer.’ They provide part of the mosaic of the answer.”
Part of the answer, may include using data to help identify vulnerable and underserved populations as well as positive community assets. Ideally, these technologies help users make more informed decisions about access, equity, and allocation of resources. Fulcher said however, without the right people behind the technology it may not have the correct impact.
“Ultimately it’s people, not technologies that tell the story,” Fulcher said. “And it’s people, not technologies that make decisions.”