Story databases

July 20, 2008

I’m not sure what my guest blogs are going to look like – it’s hard for an academic to let the thoughts flow, so to speak, without thinking about what the reviewers will say…

As I said earlier, I’m excited about using the Cognitive Edge techniques in my research. As a first crack at it, we’re going to look at the very large database in the Aviation Safety Reporting System. If you don’t know what this is, check out . Anyone involved in aviation – pilots, flight attendants, air traffic controllers, maintenance personnel – can file a report of an unsafe incident. The incentive for pilots is protection from penalties associated with their own actions (e.g., if they ‘bust’ an altitude, or do not follow an ATC directive). The incidents are de-identified and catalogued, and are searchable by keywords, dates, type of aircraft, etc. The reporter tells what happened in his/her own words. Seems like an idea story database to mine – but the authors are not available to answer any new questions on their reports. Any tips on indexing/signifying someone else’s stories after the fact are greatly appreciated.

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The Cynefin Company (formerly known as Cognitive Edge) was founded in 2005 by Dave Snowden. We believe in praxis and focus on building methods, tools and capability that apply the wisdom from Complex Adaptive Systems theory and other scientific disciplines in social systems. We are the world leader in developing management approaches (in society, government and industry) that empower organisations to absorb uncertainty, detect weak signals to enable sense-making in complex systems, act on the rich data, create resilience and, ultimately, thrive in a complex world.

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