Do dashboards protect against flying mud?

Our view of the world is increasingly shaped by dashboards. A good reason to take a moment to find out the origin of the word, which yielded a remarkable insight.

Do dashboards protect against flying mud?
Software dashboard guiding through heaps of data.

I took a short course on AI in education. And one of the lessons was about using dashboards. I used to know that word only for the car control panel, now there are countless dashboards I use. Usually, they are applications that make underlying, dynamic data (observed actions) transparent. Statistics of website traffic, progress of campaigns, or just an overview of screen usage.

Different functions of a dashboard

In the course I learned that there are several functions of dashboards, and I was shown these four gradations A dashboard can:

  1. Inform
  2. Advise
  3. Guide
  4. Induce action

To make the comparison with a car's dashboard. It informs you about the current speed, it advises you about future servicing, it guides you to find a route, and it forces you to put on your seatbelts (or suffer an increasing and constant beeping).

Etymology of the dashboard

Explaining where the word dashboard comes from requires this picture of a carriage. The screen on the left, where the lady is standing, that is the dashboard. It prevents mud, via the horses' hooves, from being dashed into the carriage.

The lady on the left is dusting the dashboard.
The lady on the left is dusting the dashboard.

You can mount clocks, buttons, and lights on such a board to give overview and control. To drive a car.

Modern dashboard in a car.
Modern dashboard in a car.

Or to guide a company, organization, or group of children with the help of a computer screen. It's funny to see that a dashboard once was used to keep mud and dirt out.

How useful is a dashboard?

That is a up for debate 😂 Check out the PowerBI dashboard post on LinkedIn.

Power BI is an interactive data visualization software product developed by Microsoft with a primary focus on business intelligence. It is part of the Microsoft Power Platform. But the below is probably a also partially true for many other dashboards.