Data overdrive
When a little is not enough

People always say …

“You’ve gotta dumb in down.”

Everglades S12 Cheatsheet

But sometimes dumbing down strips away the meaning, or sanitizing the information so much and to the point that it gives the “appearance” of information only, without really conveying the true meaning or full richness of the data stream. Looking back, it’s probably something I’ve struggled (let’s say battled with) my entire career.

Fact: Did you know that Go Hydrology started as a data portal? It was only about a year in that I added words. Later, as the data portal fell by the wayside, I embarked on a never ending journey to blend the right amount of charts, narration, video, diagrams, maps and (most recently) podcasts. Not that I gloriously left the data portal behind (“eat my dust” as they say), rather I just couldn’t figure out how to keep it alive. Life and other obligations had bogged me down, and caused me to abandon my cherished “process.”

But back in those halcyon days of creating the data portal, it was the engine that drove my hydrologic mind. Not satisfied with anything I could find anywhere else, I put myself to the task of deciphering the ecohydrosociostatistics (not a word, but it should be) of the Greater Everglades. Week after week I would both update and review those charts in a mad attempt to understand what the Sam Hill was going on. You see, I am what they call a “siloed hydrologist.” Stuck in the Big Cypress by myself, it was up to me to figure it out alone, and often using whatever materials or know-how I had available. The flip side: It absolutely energized me. I felt like I was doing something you couldn’t find elsewhere. Then came the day where somewhere along the way I either couldn’t keep up or I got involved in other things, and like that the engine that ran my inner hydrology ground to a halt.

Sometimes the world passes you by, or so you think.

And then other times — out of nowhere — you get inspired to bring it all back. Case in point: A week ago I didn’t have a single cheatsheet — now I have ten, with aspirations to add more.

S356 Pump Station – Site of future cheatsheet

What do I love about the cheatsheets? (1) They don’t dumb it down. They smart it up! (2) They’ve “jumped started” my weekly data update routine. (3) They help you (and me) see data in ways and wavelengths of water you can’t find anywhere else. (4) They make experts better and amateurs experts (watch out experts). (5) They forced me to go deep into my folder archive to resuscitate and reclaim cross sections, spreadsheets and data streams of all types. (6) They pack all the info I used to have on several charts onto one sheet, both simplifying my process and putting more on one page to see.

Morale of the Story: Eureka moments are years (decades) in the making, and strike when you least expect them. Now the real challenge: Keeping them updated weekly.!

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