Data + Context = Information

retail and hospitality

Data + Context = Information: A Dialogue on the Sociology of the Obvious

The Resonance Test 31: Gary David

March 22, 2019
by Toby BottorfKen Gordon

You can call Gary David all kinds of things. Sociology professor. Ethnographer. Professional noticer. Professional outsider. A Storage Wars guy. He is, in short, someone with a very particular view of social science and how it translates into organizational behavior. In a recent Resonance Test chin wag with our Toby Bottorf, David offers up a collection of smart, tart bon mots. In the course of the conversation he explains the formula “Data + Context = Information” by calling in the cops: “You can’t understand what crime stats mean, unless you understand police practice.” He talks about how his CX analysis focuses on the interactions customers have with a company, rather than on perceptions. “By looking at the interactions, we can see what is actually going on in the encounter.” As for Storage Wars, he’s fascinated by the way the show puts a price tag on contestants' pickings: “[R]ight now you just got a bunch of stuff in your trunk, that you bought. So you’re actually down money,” he says, adding, professorially, that the show “constructs the notion that these numbers are an accurate reflection of some concrete state—and they’re not. They’re approximations.” But maybe the best moment of all is when David gets earnest and describes his efforts this way: “You’re trying to help workers actually leverage their expertise and their knowhow and become more self-actualized, in almost a Maslow sense, in their work.”

Host: Jen Ashman
Editor: Kyp Pilalas
Producer: Ken Gordon

The Resonance Test 31: Gary David
filed in: retail and hospitality, customer experience, employee experience

About the Author

  • Bottorf Toby
    Toby Bottorf
    VP, Service and Experience Design

    Toby joined Continuum to establish a digital design capability, and is now a VP in service design, leading teams to design solutions for complex human and technical systems. His work builds on a career in UX and interface design.

    Recent work includes Audi on demand, a premium mobility service; the design of a client communications tool for a financial services company; and the strategy and experience design of a digital coaching platform for a leading American health insurer.

    Toby holds a master’s degree in communications design from the Institute of Design (IIT) and a BA in art from Yale University.

  • Ken Gordon
    Ken Gordon
    Chief Communications Specialist

    Ken makes EPAM Continuum’s work visible to the necessary people. He creates superlative content, works with colleagues to do the same, and employs social networks to share it widely.

    A card-carrying humanist, Ken co-founded QuickMuse, the improvisational writing website, and JEDLAB, the Jewish education community. He has written for, the New York Times, and many other pubs.

    Ken has an English degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and an MA in English from the State University of New York at Albany. He framed both diplomas long ago, but can’t seem to find them now—a fact he considers all-too-human.