The Sound of Silence

We live in a world that is full of data noise and don’t spend enough time checking out the gaps.


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I took part in my first live Twitter event on Thursday and found the concept interesting if not something I would want to do all of the time. The brevity forced on you by Twitter made me think very carefully about how I got my message across. I have a tendency to fill the air with words when presenting or involved in a face-to-face live debate.

As human beings we aspire to be good orators but being a good communicator does not necessarily mean you just talk a lot at people. One thing I found out early on in my presenting career is that silence can be just as powerful as a thousand words. In other words, the lack of something can prompt more inquiries than the presence of that very same thing. Just by being quiet you give the audience time to catch up and maybe in their minds come to different conclusions.

The definition of silence is the lack of audible sound or presence of sounds of very low intensity. By analogy, the word silence can also refer to any absence of communication or hearing, including in media other than speech.

So now we know what silence is but how does that equate to Qlik? Way back when I first joined Qlik over eight years ago I was shown how Qlik does the very same thing so not only can you see the answer to that question but the silence around the answer is also visible. For me, this is one of the most powerful functions of the Qlik Analytics Platform. When we go on a journey with a question in mind we also have a gut feeling as to what we assume the answer may be (and we all know what that does). So by hiding the silence we are hiding alternatives that could very well be directly affecting the answer.

For all new joiners at Qlik we send them to Lund in Sweden for new employee training, which we know as Academy. Lund is where Qlik first started in 1993 and in my humble opinion the spiritual home of the company. When I present the product session and explain the power of the gray it really opens their eyes and this is where the silence is important. It’s not what’s included in your data selections but also what’s outside of those selections that can send you on a completely new journey of data exploration.

We live in a world that is full of data noise and don’t spend enough time just checking out those gaps or silences. If we pause for a while who knows what we might find.

Photo credit: Thomas Leuthard / Foter / CC BY

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