Sometimes, when you work with data, it’s easy to think of it as just a mass of undifferentiated stuff; ones and zeroes, text, tick-boxes, that can be made to do tricks, generate graphs, impress government inspectors. I work with social care data, and I try to keep in mind that case recording has a vital role in keeping professionals informed, which means keeping real people safe from harm. This boundary between what techies do and and what people with proper jobs do is what the Data Swarm Blog is all about.
I used to be a front-line worker in social care. I started out as a volunteer in a family centre, for a year after graduating, and moved on to work in night shelters, residential care for adults with learning disabilities and children’s respite units. After fifteen years or so, I took a left turn at the traffic lights and found myself working as an IT trainer for social care recording systems. Another ten years later, with a computing degree under my belt, I find myself in mid-life, watching swarms of data flit from one flower to the next, their wings beating faster than the eye can follow. I put on my beekeper’s mask and wander about among them, gathering honey and… wait, I think I might have taken this metaphor far enough.