If you missed the news, ‘post truth’ has been chosen as the Word of the Year 2016 by Oxford Dictionaries.
post truth – is an adjective defined as ‘relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief’.
Apparently this word has been in existence for more than a decade, but its usage saw an ascendancy in the last year, thanks to the BREXIT and the recently concluded US elections. The outcome of both these political events can be clearly attributed as post truth given that they defied conventional wisdom of the pundits while the common man, though mostly in an illogical and ill-informed way, chose the contrary belief. Both these events witnessed a scenario where the pubic were definitely victims of the narratives that spread via the social media which is seeing an ascendancy in influencing human behavior than the classical stories of the prime time media.
The unfortunate reality in todays political world is this.
The truth has become so devalued that what was once the gold standard of political debate is a worthless currency.
I am not sure about the gold standard, but, we all know politics has been copiously riddled with lies, as it was evident from the recent US elections with both the political parties trading charges and there is even a Pulitzer Prize winning Truth-o-meter to help find the truth on the claims that were made. Besides that, every political party and media houses had their own fact checking tool to ascertain the claims and counter-claims made by the candidates. In spite of all that, we all know the end result and it was clearly a post-truth moment in politics.
You can claim the calling of the prime-time media pundits as biased on the one side, which was clearly the case in the US elections, still, they had far less influence in shaping the public opinion as it was evident in the electoral outcome.
Thinking about this new winner for 2016, I am getting convinced that there sure is a post truth moment in the current technology landscape across industries. While the world sees incredible technology innovation across the spectrum, applied to solve some of the complex problems faced by humanity, the mindless application of some of these technologies continues to make the same technologies appear as fad, with very little effect on the bottom-line results.
For example, despite all the success stories we continue to see with Data Science and Big Data, why is that many firms still struggle with their technology ROI in this area? Why is that, in their attempt to be the next Google or Apple, many firms struggle to promote an Innovation culture, despite their monetary muscle power to acquire the most colorful furniture and starbucks filled open work places?
So, what’s this post truth technology moment?
If Politics continues to see an erosion of the gold standard of Truth, the field of technology application in industries sees an erosion of common sense.
The industry is increasingly becoming victim to the hype cycle and technology decisions more often seem to defy common sense and a clear defined convention of intent and purpose. Technology decisions are increasingly made based on what one reads and hears in the media and just like a typical human tendency of jealousy, they are getting influenced by the shiny car that is parked in thy neighbor’s porch.
Want to kick-start a Big Data effort? Pay some millions to get few of the so called Data Scientists (by the way, there are plenty of them these days) and call your top database vendor. How did you chose this technology – because Google and Netflix are using it. How do you make a decision – I happen to be an avid reader of technology news! What do you want to do with it and who is to consume the outcome – we will figure that out later.
As much as objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion and post truth has been associated primarily with politics, the same can be said about technology decisions made in enterprises, that defy the very objective facts, to deserve the phrase post truth technology decision.
The surreal truth is that, be it in Politics, Technology or elsewhere, anything that defies objectivity can only result in unconventional results.
Welcome to the post truth world.