Dean Andrew Dillon shares research on interpreting an incessant flow of data


Emily Ng

Andrew Dillion, the Dean of the School of Information, gave a lecture on how to make sense in an information world when
interpreting data at the AT&T Center.

Alexandra Dubinsky

Andrew Dillon, Dean of the School of Information, emphasized the importance of extracting meaning from large amounts of data Wednesday afternoon at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center. 

For 90 minutes, Dillon lectured UT faculty and individuals in the business field on methods used to comprehend information.

“We are always pressurized to think that if you don’t keep up, you will be lost,” Dillon said. “The point is to feel less overwhelmed and in control. It’s not the data that matters, it’s how you use it.”

Every month, the McCombs School of Business invites UT students, faculty and the public to attend the Texas Enterprise Speaker Series, in which experts across the UT campus display their research.

Gayle Hight, public affairs representative for the McCombs School of Business, said she believed the audience would benefit from hearing Dillon speak.

“Dillon has studied human knowledge for the past 20 years. He has research that has significant business applications,” Hight said.

Dillon’s presentation delved into a psychological approach on the effect of an influx of data and technology by showcasing several experiments to understand the human perceptual system. According to Dillon, today’s issue is the emphasis of search over comprehension, location over learning and automatic processing over controlled processing.

“We have to worry about how humans explore and interpret data,” Dillon said. “We construct our own worlds and things aren’t always what they seem.”

While Dillon presented the issue, he also provided the audience with several solutions to distinguish between rapid data and knowledge.

Dillon offered four steps, including limiting distractions, understanding limits on attention and memory, identifying patterns and choosing information that benefits needs and not wants.

At the end of the lecture, Dillon invited the audience to discuss, comment and ask questions. Ruth Fagan-Wilen, a lecturer in the School of Social Work, provided her own perspective on the relationship between humans and technology.

“I like the idea of avoiding distractions,” Fagan-Wilen said. “His idea of staying focused is important but sometimes you can be too focused on a task and miss out on something else.”

Printed on Thursday, February 7, 2013 as: Lecture indicates merits of data