A few months ago last.fm started looking for a data griot – in their words, a griot “must … have the ability to extemporize on current events, chance incidents and the passing scene. His wit can be devastating and his understanding of history formidable.”
I thought this was a fascinating take on the need within companies for stories. It’s normally gussied up in other language – research (stories of the past and present) & design, futurism, innovation, even business contingency (all stories of potential futures). Companies spend a lot of money looking for these stories. Traditional product companies had to ask people and users to tell their stories, normally through market research. Web companies are at a huge advantage: they have rivers of usage data flowing through their servers, and the problem inverses – how to make sense and tease out meaning and interest from such a torrent.