Cultivate curiosity.
Create possibility.

Data Will Help Us: A brief manifesto about the promise and perils of data, by Jonathan Harris.

Jonathan Harris creates projects that reimagine how humans relate to technology and to each other. His creations include things like We Feel Fine, which measures the emotional temperature of the human world through large-scale blog analysis, and the world’s largest time capsule. Other projects ask new questions about online dating, modern mythology, happiness, anonymity, news, and language. Most recently, he created Cowbird, a community of storytellers working to build a public library of human experience.

The New York Times commissioned Harris to create what you see below in vibrant rainbow hues, called “Data Will Help Us.” The colors and close spacing of the text suggest a sort of urgency in the subject matter. About halfway through reading, the text even seems to be alive. He considers it to be “a brief manifesto about the promise and perils of data.”

Data Manifesto

What is so striking about the piece, is the important new questions that it asks, regarding data. Technology has, and is developing at such a rapid rate, that it has transformed the human experience without leaving much room for questioning. Harris’ manifesto energetically incites a dialogue that is so important for us to have.

Harris ends with this question about data: It will help us see the world as it is, but will it help us see the world as it could be?

My question is: How can we help each other see the world as it could be?

We can start by asking new questions, as Harris’ manifesto does with such insight and beauty.

Questions are fundamental to The Possibility Practice. When we stop asking questions, we become stuck, stop growing, and get tangled up in our (often inaccurate) assumptions. We assume things about ourselves, about others and about the world. Asking new questions opens the door for possibility and discovery, not only for ourselves, but for the world.

This is our manifesto.

Possibility Practice Manifesto


Download the Possibility Practice Manifesto.

Do you have a manifesto of your own? If not, can you imagine one thing it might say? Please share your ideas with us on Facebook or in the comment section below.

Too keep up with his amazing feats of possibility, follow Jonathan Harris on Twitter. While you’re there, you can follow us too.


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Karen Steinberg