Another dot in the blogosphere?

Product-process lesson from COVID-19

Posted on: March 5, 2020

The local press is fond of highlighting the number of new COVID-19 cases each day. According to this data visualisation tool [desktop] [mobile], Singapore had 110 cases as of yesterday. Note: The data is from official sources in each country.

What the press conveniently leaves out from its headlines is the number of recoveries. According to the data, 78 people in Singapore have recovered and none have died as of yesterday. This makes our known pool of COVID-19 patients 32.

Focusing on the number of infections without also emphasising the recoveries feeds the fear. While this does not contravene any POFMA rule, it is still irresponsible behaviour.

POFMA might deal with misinformation and disinformation, but it can do nothing about partial information. We need to be better and do better. We might do this by uncovering the processes behind each product.

Screenshot of graph showing COVID-19 infections and recoveries worldwide.

When I first visited the data visualisation site almost a month ago, I did not notice this other visualisation of COVID-19 cases. The new cases (orange and yellow lines) are plateauing at the moment. The recoveries (in green) are on the rise.

The graphs might change if there are new cycles of infections, but the more complete use of numbers tells a more complete story.

As I view this again from the perspective of an educator, I return to product and process. Headlines and graphs are products. But these have underlying processes that need to be examined and critiqued. We remain ignorant if we take products at face value without demanding better processes that create them.

Insist on seeing the processes. Demand to shape them.

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